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Schnatter ‘Saddened’ by Papa John’s Move to Metro Atlanta

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John Schnatter founded Papa John’s Pizza in 1984 in the back of his father’s tavern in Jeffersonville, Ind., near Louisville, Ky., where the business was based for about 36 years.

Schnatter has been gone from Papa John’s for about two years after a series of controversies led to his resignation.

Now the pizza empire he built, Papa John’s International, is moving its global headquarters from Louisville to metro Atlanta.

The chain announced Sept. 17 that it’s moving menu innovation; marketing; customer experience; human resources; diversity, equity and inclusion; communications; and development functions to the Atlanta area. Papa John’s information technology, supply chain and legal teams will remain in Louisville. Papa John’s also maintains a headquarters office outside of London, where its international operations are managed.

Papa John’s said its new global headquarters in metro Atlanta is a key element of a broader reorganization of corporate functions, reflecting the company’s ongoing transformation into a brand and culture that can effectively and efficiently deliver on the company’s purpose, values and strategic business priorities. The opening of the new Atlanta location and related organizational changes are expected to be completed by next summer and do not affect Papa John’s company-owned or franchised stores or its nationwide network of quality control centers (QCCs).

“Shortly after setting a new strategic direction for Papa John’s late last year, we began to assess the optimal corporate organization to support our restaurants and our brand’s long-term growth,” said Rob Lynch, Papa John’s president and CEO. “With strong momentum and our potential expanding every day, we are investing in capabilities for future innovation and global growth, improving efficiencies and better aligning our organization around the strategies that are driving our near- and long-term success.”

The company said it’s currently in discussions with a number of potential office locations throughout the Atlanta area and expects to complete the selection process by the end of 2020.

“We’re thrilled to open a headquarters office in such an energetic and diverse region,” Lynch added. “Metro Atlanta’s deep talent pool and its world-class airport connecting us to the domestic and international markets that are key to our brand’s future will accelerate our long-term growth. Atlanta is also our largest corporate-owned restaurant market and the location of our newest and most sophisticated QCC.”

In a statement, Schnatter said he was “saddened” by news of the move.

“Despite pledging to maintain a company presence in Louisville, I’m concerned that the relationship won’t be the same as it was for three successful decades,” Schnatter said. “While this is disappointing, I offer my best regards to my friends and colleagues in Louisville, hopeful that a new generation of entrepreneurs will create the next business success stories in the Louisville community.”

Lynch said the Louisville headquarters remains essential to the company’s success.

Papa John’s is the world’s third largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,300 restaurants in 48 countries and territories.

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