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Former Papa John’s CEO still trying to secure partnership to take back company

Ousted CEO John Schnatter is not yet done with taking back Papa John’s but it will not be an easy task for him.



The fast-food industry was taken aback when Papa John’s Int’l, Inc. founder, John Schnatter was put at the center of a racial controversy after there was a leaked audio of him saying a few insensitive comments. In January, he stepped down as CEO of the company and in July, he also stepped down as the chairman of the board. Since then, the former executive has been unsuccessful in taking back his company.

According to a report by CNBC, Schnatter is turning to private equity firms to secure a partnership in a bid to buy back his company. Despite already owning 30 percent of the company, many private equity firms have turned him down likely because they are avoiding the risks that come with Schnatter’s issues. However, Schnatter’s spokesman has denied that the executive is looking for partners.

Since the issue began, Papa John’s shares started falling. Just a year ago, a share was worth at least $70. The stock continued to take a dive mid-2018, with August being its worst performance after it dropped to $38 per share. The price has begun to bounce back from its massive plunge, and despite the news of the possible return of Schnatter, the stock has moved beyond the $52 mark.

Papa John’s new Voices campaign redefines the company

Since Schnatter’s departure, the rest of Papa John’s has been busy working on a new chapter. Understandably, it would be hard for the company to move on without having to face the mistakes the former CEO made. To recover from the controversy, Ad Week says that the brand is rolling out a marketing campaign and removing the apostrophe from the company’s name and branding.

“Ultimately, when a brand has an experience like ours has, there’s a real desire to put a stake in the ground for who we are. Who we are as people and who we are as a brand and what we believe in,” said Melissa Richards-Person, VP of global brand strategy for Papa John’s.

Papa John's

Papa John’s wants to let people understand that the actions of Schnatter do not define the entire company. (Photo by DepositPhotos)

Papa John’s new Voices campaign that launched last month put the focus on the people behind the company. Voices included the faces of pizza makers, delivery men, store managers and more. This was all done in a bid to let people understand that the actions of Schnatter do not define the entire company.

The company interviewed nearly 70 people that came from its thousands of branches in the U.S. They were asked what they loved most about Papa John’s. The campaign might have been successful in keeping the company’s stocks from further falling and results could be more prevalent in the coming weeks.

We have yet to know whether Schnatter is pushing to become the CEO and chairman of Papa John’s once again, but it seems like he will have a tough time doing so. The good thing is that despite the controversies, the rest of Papa John’s continues to serve the public with its staple dishes and that investors are still willing to support them.

(Featured image by Mr. Blue Mau Mau via Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

Michael Jermaine Cards is a business executive and a financial journalist, with a focus on IT, innovation and transportation, as well as crypto and AI. He writes about robotics, automation, deep learning, multimodal transit, among others. He updates his readers on the latest market developments, tech and CBD stocks, and even the commodities industry. He does management consulting parallel to his writing, and has been based in Singapore for the past 15 years.