Papa John’s appoints new CEO

Leslie Patton US struggling pizza maker Papa John’s has appointed Arby’s president Rob Lynch as its new chief executive.

Papa John’s appoints new CEO

US struggling pizza maker Papa John’s has appointed Arby’s president Rob Lynch as its new chief executive. Mr Lynch, a fast-food industry veteran, will replace Steve Ritchie.

It’s the biggest shakeup since activist shareholder Starboard Value set its sights on the pizza company. In a statement, chairman Jeff Smith cited Mr Lynch’s “proven record transforming organisations and realising the growth potential of differentiated brands”.

Papa John’s, which operates about 5,300 locations globally, has been facing slowing sales, with revenue declining 12% in 2018. Founder John Schnatter, whose image had once been deeply ingrained with the company’s marketing, agreed earlier this year to resign from the board and dismiss a lawsuit related to his departure last year as chairman.

Papa John’s woes grew last summer after the founder used a racial slur on a conference call, which he said was taken out of context. Papa John’s shares rose around 1.5% for a small gain over the past year.

Starboard has invested $250m (€225m) in Papa John’s since February. Mr Smith, Starboard’s CEO, became chairman of the pizza maker when they took the stake. The pizza maker’s shares fell 29% in 2018 and 34% in 2017.

In Ireland, the Papa John’s franchise is owned by Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh. Mr Lynch joined Inspire Brands-owned Arby’s in 2013 as the roast-beef sandwich chain’s chief marketing officer.

Before that, he worked at Procter & Gamble and Yum Brands as vice president of brand marketing for Taco Bell. He was appointed president of Arby’s in 2017 overseeing marketing, operations and development.

At Arby’s, Mr Lynch led the chain’s heavy meat-focused marketing and bold ad campaigns that poked fun at vegetarians. Arby’s has more than 3,300 restaurants across the world.

In 2014, Arby’s hit social-media marketing gold when it started a back-and-forth with recording artist Pharrell Williams over Twitter over his hat, which resembles the restaurant chain’s logo.

Starboard is known for its turnaround of Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants.

Mr Smith’s proxy fight to replace Darden’s directors included a nearly 300-page power point presentation that called for several specific changes at the Italian-dining chain, including adding salt to the water when cooking pasta.

Bloomberg. Additional reporting Irish Examiner

More in this section

Budget 2022 Logo

What impact will this  year's budget have on you and your business.

IE logo
Devices


UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE IRISH EXAMINER FOR TEAMS AND ORGANISATIONS
FIND OUT MORE

The Business Hub
Newsletter

News and analysis on business, money and jobs from Munster and beyond by our expert team of business writers.

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up