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NRN: Papa John’s Records Best Same-Store Sales Growth in Company History

The embattled chain’s same-store sales grew by 27% in April.

It only took a global pandemic, but things are finally looking up for Papa John’s, the iconic pizza franchise whose fortunes began tumbling nearly three years ago, when founder and CEO John Schnatter was ousted from the company after using a racial slur in a conference call. In the years since, the brand has struggled with both its image and sales. But a historically profitable April for the brand may indicate a much-needed turnaround.

According to an article in Nation’s Restaurant news, the franchise recorded 26.9% same-store sales growth for North American stores in April, making it the strongest month in the company’s history.

The brand is attributing at least some of that success to recent menu innovations like jalapeno poppers and the new Papadia sandwich, but it recognizes that pizza delivery is one segment that has done well across the board throughout the coronavirus crisis.

“I think what this challenging, unprecedented situation has shown is that the pizza delivery business is the kind of business that can persevere through these types of challenges,” Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch said during Wednesday morning’s earnings call. “Our business models are set up for this, and as that behavior continues to evolve, we will benefit from that. I think the dine-in side of the pizza [industry] is facing the same challenges as the rest of the casual dining industry. If there is a shakeout, I would see it on the side of restaurants that focus on dine-in as opposed to both national and mom and pop pizza delivery.”

In the first quarter of 2020, Papa John’s reported a net income of $8.4 million, up from a net loss of $1.7 million during the same period last year.

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