On Tuesday, the company reported that comparable sales had fallen 5.3 percent from a year earlier in its North American business, a decline new CEO Steve Ritchie said was expected in an earnings call with reporters.
Papa John’s has reported declining sales in every quarter since the third quarter of 2016, with business analysts speculating that the company has done a poor job dealing with competition from third-party delivery services such as Grubhub and Uber Eats (in November, Ritchie speculated that such services had the potential to have only “a small impact” on his company’s business). During Tuesday’s earnings call, Ritchie said the company’s chief goal is improving its “brand differential messaging” by “emphasizing our quality story in new ways to better reach our customers.”
Last fall, Papa John himself, John Schnatter, tried to blame this on the NFL and its controversy regarding the national anthem. He said the league’s “poor leadership” should have nipped it in the bud. Schnatter was removed as CEO after that, but the NFL’s dance with Papa was over by February.
That was three months ago, and not much has changed.
I buy that third-party delivery services are having an impact, but — and this is just my personal opinion — the quality and consistency of Papa John’s food is not what it once was, and this has happened at the same time Dominoes has repented for its sins and improved its offerings.