Packaging from Papa John's prominently featured the founder. / Bloomberg Packaging from Papa John's prominently featured the founder. / Bloomberg

Papa John Tells Papa John’s Employees Only He Can Save Papa John’s

Papa John’s International Inc.’s embattled founder is taking his fight with the pizza chain to its employees.

John Schnatter, who resigned as chairman last month, took out a full-page ad in the company’s hometown paper, the Courier Journal, to direct employees of the Louisville, Kentucky-based firm to a new website he’s launched, called Save Papa Johns. Papa John’s has about 120,000 workers worldwide, including those at its franchises.

“The Board wants to silence me,” Schnatter wrote on the website, which includes copies of legal documents in his fight with the pizza company. “So this is my website, and my way to talk to you.”

The website is Schnatter’s latest bid in his campaign for new leadership at the chain. The 56-year-old came under pressure after a July media report that he used a racial slur and descriptions of violence against minorities on a call with a media agency. He admitted to using the slur but said he was taken out of context. Months earlier, he had exited the chief executive officer job over critical comments about the National Football League’s national-anthem controversy. He’s since said he regrets resigning.

After the pizza chain reported weaker-than-expected earnings last quarter, Schnatter published a blistering critique of the company’s leadership, including CEO Steve Ritchie.

The chain punched back, noting that Schnatter’s recent controversy is weighing down performance, with North American same-store sales falling 10.5 percent in July. The chain has had to give financial assistance to franchisees who’ve been hurt by Schnatter’s statements “to mitigate closings,” it said.

On July 22, the company’s board adopted a poison pill designed to prevent Schnatter from adding to his roughly 30 percent stake in a bid to gain majority control.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Leslie Patton from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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