Papa John’s: founder kicked himself out of office

Louisville / KY. (pj) Following the resignation of John H. Schnatter, Chairman of the Board and Founder of Papa John’s International Inc., a special committee of Papa John’s board approves company actions with respect to all of the company’s relationships and arrangements with John H. Schnatter. The special committee is being advised by independent outside legal counsel.

The special committee has already taken a number of important actions. The special committee approved and directed the company to terminate Schnatter’s Founder Agreement, which defined his role in the company, among other things, as advertising and brand spokesperson for the company. Since Schnatter no longer has an active role with the management of company’s business, the special committee also approved and directed the company to terminate a sublease agreement granting Schnatter the right to use certain office space at the company’s corporate headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

As last week announced, Schnatter is no longer a spokesperson for the company or the brand. The company has specifically requested that Schnatter cease all media appearances, and not make any further statements to the media regarding the company, its business or employees.

The special committee also intends to oversee the external audit and investigation which the company previously announced that it will conduct of all the company’s existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier and vendor engagement and Papa John’s culture.

Message from Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie

Papa John’s is not an individual. Papa John’s is a pizza company with 120,000 corporate and franchise team members around the world. Our employees represent all walks of life, and we are committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace for all. Racism and any insensitive language, no matter what the context simply cannot – and will not – be tolerated at any level of our company.

The Board of Directors of Papa John’s accepted Schnatter’s resignation as Chairman of the Board earlier this week. It has also been decided he will no longer be in any of the advertising or marketing materials associated with the brand.

This decision is the first of several key steps to rebuild trust from the inside-out. We will be engaging a broad set of stakeholders to chart a course forward that demonstrates our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

First, we will identify and retain an independent and outside expert to audit all of our existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier engagement and Papa John’s culture. As part of that process, we will establish a process for communicating progress against transparent goals to everyone in our Papa John’s family.

The entire senior management team will also be visiting key locations across the country and hold listening sessions with employees in our stores to talk about what they are seeing and give them a platform to voice their concerns. To follow-up, we will initiate two-way conversations to invite ongoing feedback from employees and franchisees to ensure that their voices are heard.

I will personally be leading this effort because there is nothing more important for Papa John’s right now. We want to regain trust, though I know we need to earn it. We will demonstrate that a diverse and inclusive culture exists at Papa John’s through our deeds and actions.

The reason why John Schnatter resigned

His first pizza-making equipment John Schnatter bought as a young man in 1984. Today there are approximately 5’200 Papa John’s restaurants operating in all 50 U.S. states and in 44 international countries and territories. Consolidated revenues for the full year 2017 were 1.78 billion USD. That is the huge success of John Schnatter – by the way the face of the company. But what does that all matter if the same person is not able to distance himself enough from racist remarks? Nothing else happened, when Papa John’s founder used an N-word on a conference call in May. Schnatter apologized later, but by then he had already become a burden for his own company. Now this «Pizzagate» kicked him out of his office.