Papa John's founder and chief executive officer John Schnatter announced that he will step down from his role in January 2018.
The news comes two months after openly criticizing NFL players for protests against police brutality during the national anthem. The pizza chain, an NFL sponsor and advertiser, had seen its quarterly revenues fall since the football season started, with "significant decline" in TV ratings being blamed for the losses.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Schnatter's post as chairman (he is also the largest shareholder of the chain) remains intact. Steve Ritchie, the brand's chief operating officer, will replace Schnatter in the top role. Ritchie said there is no word on whether Schnatter will remain the brand's spokesperson.
Papa John's recently underwent a creative review that saw the likes of Grey, BBDO New York, and Laundry Service competing for the business. Chief marketing officer Brandon Rhoten announced the winner of the pitch, Laundry Service via Twitter:
— Brandon Rhoten (@brhoten) October 31, 2017
Ritchie, who began his career at Papa John's making pizzas and answering customer phone calls 21 years ago, said that the brand looks to compete with Domino's, as well as other fast food brands by making it easier for customers to order a pizza from multiple platforms. The brand currently allows customers to order from Facebook and Apple TV.