Ritchie told analysts on the earnings call he believed the “significance of the decline” took place in July and said it was too early to share data from August. He reiterated that pizza sales were still being hurt by comments made by Schnatter during an earnings call last November in which he blamed the NFL for soft pizza sales.
Schnatter criticized the NFL, which Papa John’s sponsored, for failing to curtail players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against people of color. The matter got even worse after Forbes reported last month that Schnatter used the N-word on a May conference call.
Those comments ultimately led to Schnatter stepping down as CEO in December. In July, he was forced to give up his post as chairman after the May call came to light.
Schnatter owns nearly 30 percent of the company’s shares and remains on the company’s board as a director. In late July, the board took an additional step of enacting a shareholder rights plan, or a “poison pill,” to prevent Schnatter from acquiring a controlling stake in the company.
“Sometimes the greatest opportunities happen in the most inopportune times,” Ritchie said on the call. “I couldn’t be more excited than I ever have been in my 22 years with the Papa John’s brand to flip the switch and look forward, not be distracted by the words and comments of one individual but look forward to move this brand forward.”