Papa John’s has a new CEO. But will Rob Lynch, formerly the president of red hot sandwich chain Arby’s, have the chops to turn the struggling pizza chain around?
Lynch was named CEO of Papa John’s (PZZA) Tuesday morning. He replaces Steve Ritchie, the veteran Papa John’s (PZZA) executive who took over in the wake of the scandal surrounding founder and former CEO John Schnatter.
Schnatter was forced to resign after reports emerged that he used a racial epithet during a conference call. He also courted controversy by blaming poor sales on football players protesting the national anthem at a time when Papa John’s was the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League.
Sales continued to fall in the United States even after Ritchie took over. That was one reason why activist investing firm Starboard Value, which is famous for agitating for big changes at Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants (DRI), took a $200 million stake in Papa John’s earlier this year and pledged to turn things around. Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith took over as Papa John’s chairman.
“I am thrilled to welcome Rob to Papa John’s at this pivotal moment in the company’s history,” Smith said in a statement. “His proven record transforming organizations and realizing the growth potential of differentiated brands is ideally suited for Papa John’s as the company sets forth on its next chapter.”