It is said that words once said cannot be taken back. How Papa John’s might be wishing right now that they may be able to roll back time to prevent a calamitous comment from their founder. The company’s founder, John Schnatter, caused his own company’s undoing, as his “irresponsible and inexcusable comments” have ensured that their sales have plunged by 10.5 percent, as stated by the current CEO Steve Ritchie during a conversation with analysts. Executive and shareholders of Papa John’s should be bracing for a storm in the foreseeable future.
Schnatter had been ruffling many feathers for quite some time, going back to November’s earnings call last year, where he was critical of the NFL, which has Papa John’s as its sponsor, saying that it was soft on players who were kneeling during the national anthem before the games. The act of kneeling had gained much mileage, as the players were united in the protests concerning police brutality against colored people. However, the final nail in the coffin might have been his use of the N-word during a conference call in May.
Schnatter had stepped down from the CEO position last December, but had to give up his Chairman post as well in July, as his comments from May came to light. The company endured a greatly underperforming second quarter, and thus had to drastically lower its yearly forecast. The sales expectations for stores that are open for at least the year ahead may fall between 7 to 10 percent, against earlier estimations of not more than 3% fall in sales. Schnatter is still on board as the Director, and owns 30% of Papa John’s shares. Ritchie said that he hoped that the company would tread a new path from this moment onwards and take the brand ahead.
Meanwhile, players in the NFL are standing united over President Trump’s National Anthem policy, with Green Bay Packers’ quarter-back Aaron Rodgers speaking out against Mr. Trump, saying that if it was up to him, he would not hesitate in muting out Trump’s voice. Trump has been a frequent critic of the protests by players, as well as the league’s handling of the players. Rodgers and some other players have been at the receiving end of fan’s ire over the protests, but he reiterated that they were not against the nation’s military, but their protest is all about equality, unity and love.