Papa Johns Announces CEO Transition

CEO Rob Lynch to be succeeded by Ravi Thanawala as Interim CEO, Board of Directors conducting comprehensive external search

Mar 21, 2024 - 09:41
Mar 21, 2024 - 09:42

Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) today announced Rob Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer, will be departing Papa Johns to assume another CEO position. The Board has appointed Ravi Thanawala, Papa Johns current Chief Financial Officer, as Interim CEO effective today. To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Lynch will provide continued support in an advisory role until April 30, 2024. The Board is conducting a comprehensive search process to identify a successor for the CEO role.

“Since joining Papa Johns nearly five years ago, Mr. Lynch has guided the Company through a business and culture transformation. I am joined by the Board, our team members and our franchisees in sharing our deepest thanks for his service and contributions in rebuilding the strength of the brand as CEO. We wish Rob all the best,” said Chairman of the Board, Christopher Coleman. “I am confident that we have a strong leadership team in place – led by Ravi Thanawala as Interim CEO – to continue to execute our long-term strategy as the Board takes the necessary time to identify the next CEO for Papa Johns.”

“It’s been my honor and privilege to serve as Papa Johns CEO for the past five years. I could not be more proud of the work our Executive Leadership Team, team members and franchisees have done to grow and transform this brand,” said Rob Lynch. “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, as I see all of the upside potential that exists for this great company. That being said, I feel good about this decision knowing that Papa Johns is very well positioned for both the short and long term. I am certain that Papa Johns’ incredible leaders, franchisees and team members will continue to do what only Papa Johns can: deliver better pizza to the world.”

“I’m honored to step in as Interim CEO during this transition period and thank the Papa Johns Board of Directors for its confidence in me,” said Mr. Thanawala. “We have a talented Executive Leadership Team, a strong group of franchisees and dedicated team members behind this iconic brand who will continue to deliver on our Back to Better 2.0 strategy and international transformation initiatives, creating long-term value for all of our stakeholders.”

Mr. Thanawala joined Papa Johns in 2023 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Papa Johns, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Nike North America, Nike Inc.’s largest division, generating approximately $20 billion in revenue on an annual basis. During his seven years at Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala also served as the Global VP and CFO of the Converse brand, executing Nike’s global omnichannel direct-to-consumer strategy and successfully turning around the $3.5 billion dollar Converse brand. In addition, he was the Global VP of Retail Excellence, overseeing the brand’s performance across its business channels of franchises, licenses, direct to consumer and wholesale. Prior to Nike Inc., Mr. Thanawala spent eight years at ANN INC. in finance and operations roles.

Fiscal 2024 Adjusted Operating Income and development outlook reaffirmed

Papa Johns announced its Back to Better 2.0 growth strategy and international transformation initiatives earlier this year, which include a focus on deepened marketing investments, new franchisee incentives to accelerate North America development and optimizations to transform the brand’s international presence.

As the Company continues to execute on these initiatives, it remains on track to achieve Adjusted Operating Income1 in 2024 between $153 million and $163 million. Additionally, the Company expects net unit growth for North America to increase more than 20% relative to 2023 net unit openings and anticipates International gross openings to be between 100 and 140 new International restaurants.