Health Care

Papa John's founder steps down as CEO weeks after National Football League comments

Papa John's founder steps down as CEO weeks after National Football League comments

John Schnatter, the company's CEO and founder, will leave his post after his disparaging comments about the NFL and of its players' national anthem protests in November, NPR reported.

Steve Ritchie will replace Schnatter effective January 1, 2018.

"In his duties as Chairman and founder, Schnatter will continue to champion the core principles that led to recognition as the industry leader in product quality and customer satisfaction", the release stated.

The company cut its NFL TV advertising last month, citing the league's "poor leadership" in handling the national anthem protests. "That definitely was not our intention", the company said on Twitter.

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Papa John's apologized two weeks later, after white supremacists praised Schnatter's comments.

"We want to focus on what we do best - our people and our pizza", Collins said.

Though Schnatter will hand the reins to longtime deputy Steve Ritchie, who already oversees operations, the move raised fresh questions about a company that's suffered a sales slump this year.

Schnatter, 56, founded Papa John's more than 30 years ago, turning a broom closet at his father's bar into a pizza spot.

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The stock declined as much as 4.3 percent to $56.71, the biggest intraday drop since December 6.

CEO John Schnatter has resigned after a dusty-parmesan flurry of controversy and low sales. Since then, it has grown to more than 5,000 locations. Schnatter announced his decision when the market closed. It's not the first time Schnatter has stepped down.

The news of Ritchie's new role comes on the heels of a year of particularly negative press for the pizza company's brand. The company said later Thursday that it had "no plans to remove John from our communications", which it says includes pizza boxes or commercials. It was later revealed that the pizza mogul also had supported President Donald Trump's campaign for president. McDonald's Corp., for example, expects to increase delivery from 5,000 of its almost 14,000 USA locations by the end of the year.

Ritchie, 43, began his career with the pizza chain in 1996 as a customer service representative and slowly worked his way up, eventually becoming a franchisee owner in 2006.

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Ritchie said he will focus on making it easier to order Papa John's from anywhere, including form tweets, text messages, and voice-activated devices.