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Papa John’s hires Arby’s head as CEO to turnaround struggling pizza chain

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Via Reuters Finance

FILE PHOTO: The Papa John’s store in Westminster, Colorado, U.S. August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) – Papa John’s International Inc on Tuesday named Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc President Rob Lynch as its chief executive officer, replacing Steve Ritchie barely 19 months after he took the role, sending the shares of the world’s third largest pizza chain up 3%.

A former marketing executive at Yum Brands’ Taco Bell and Procter & Gamble Co, Lynch will be tasked with turning around the company’s struggling sales as it fights to get past the negative publicity surrounding its founder John Schnatter.

Schnatter resigned as CEO in 2017 after he came under fire for criticizing the National Football League’s leadership over national anthem protests by players, giving the role to Ritchie.

Hedge fund Starboard Value LP too has been pushing for a turnaround in sales after taking a stake in the company, which was worth $200 million in February. Papa John’s chose Starboard over a rival offer from Schnatter.

“(Lynch’s) 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,” the company’s chairman and Starboard CEO Jeff Smith said.

In a separate statement, Inspire Brands, the company that owns Arby’s, said the sandwich chain’s marketing head Jim Taylor would take over as president.

Lynch’s appointment was reported here by Bloomberg late on Monday.


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