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Table of Contents

 

 

PJ_Secondary_Logo_CMYK

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C.  20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

 

Annual Report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

 

or

 

 

 

Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

 

For the transition period from                                            to                                          

 

Commission File Number:  0-21660

 

PAPA JOHN’S INTERNATIONAL, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

61-1203323

(State or other jurisdiction of

 

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

 

Identification No.)

 

 

2002 Papa John’s Boulevard

 

 

Louisville, Kentucky

 

40299-2367

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(502) 261-7272

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)


 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

(Title of Each Class)

 

(Name of each exchange on which registered)

Common Stock, $0.01 par value

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None


 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes ☐  No ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer ☒

 

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer ☐

 

Smaller reporting company ☐

Emerging growth company ☐

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the Registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes ☐  No ☒

 

 

The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, computed by reference to the closing sale price on The NASDAQ Stock Market as of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, June 25, 2017, was $1,979,090,627.

 

As of February 20, 2018, there were 33,538,310 shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Portions of Part III of this annual report are incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held May 2, 2018.

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

    

Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART I 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1. 

 

Business

 

3

 

Item 1A. 

 

Risk Factors

 

12

 

Item 1B. 

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

21

 

Item 2. 

 

Properties

 

21

 

Item 3. 

 

Legal Proceedings

 

24

 

Item 4. 

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5. 

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

27

 

Item 6. 

 

Selected Financial Data

 

29

 

Item 7. 

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

31

 

Item 7A. 

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

49

 

Item 8. 

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

52

 

Item 9. 

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

84

 

Item 9A. 

 

Controls and Procedures

 

84

 

Item 9B. 

 

Other Information

 

86

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10. 

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

86

 

Item 11. 

 

Executive Compensation

 

86

 

Item 12. 

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

86

 

Item 13. 

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

87

 

Item 14. 

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15. 

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

87

 

 

 

 

 

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PART I

 

Item 1.  Business

 

General

 

Papa John’s International, Inc., a Delaware corporation (referred to as the “Company”, “Papa John’s” or in the first person notations of “we”, “us” and “our”) operates and franchises pizza delivery and carryout restaurants and, in certain international markets, dine-in and delivery restaurants under the trademark “Papa John’s”.  Papa John’s began operations in 1984.  At December 31, 2017, there were 5,199 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 743 Company-owned and 4,456 franchised restaurants operating domestically in all 50 states and in 44 countries and territories. Our Company-owned restaurants include 246 restaurants operated under five joint venture arrangements and 35 units in Beijing and North China.

 

Papa John’s has defined five reportable segments: domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America commissaries (Quality Control Centers), North America franchising, international operations, and “all other” business units. North America is defined as the United States and Canada. Domestic is defined as the contiguous United States. International franchisees are defined as all franchise operations outside of the United States and Canada. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Note 20” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for financial information about our segments.

 

All of our periodic and current reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), are available, free of charge, through our website located at www.papajohns.com, including our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports. Those documents are available through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file them with the SEC. We also make available free of charge on our website our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Board Committee Charters, and our Code of Ethics, which applies to Papa John’s directors, officers and employees. Printed copies of such documents are also available free of charge upon written request to Investor Relations, Papa John’s International, Inc., P.O. Box 99900, Louisville, KY 40269-0900. You may read and copy any materials filed with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. This information is also available at www.sec.gov. The references to these website addresses do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on the websites, which should not be considered part of this document.

 

Strategy

 

Our goal is to build the strongest brand loyalty in the pizza industry by delivering on our “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” promise. Recognized as a trusted brand and quality leader in the domestic pizza category, our objective is to build our brand on a global basis by executing the key elements of our strategy. 

 

High-Quality Menu Offerings. Our menu strategy focuses on the quality of our ingredients.  Domestic Papa John’s restaurants offer high-quality pizza along with side items, including breadsticks, cheesesticks, chicken poppers and wings, dessert items and canned or bottled beverages. Papa John’s original crust pizza is prepared using fresh dough (never frozen). In addition, during 2016 we introduced a fresh pan dough crust to the domestic system.  Papa John’s pizzas are made from a proprietary blend of wheat flour, real cheese made from mozzarella, fresh-packed pizza sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes (not from concentrate) and a proprietary mix of savory spices, and a choice of high-quality meat and vegetable toppings. Our original and pan dough crust pizza is delivered with a container of our special garlic sauce and a pepperoncini pepper. In addition to our fresh dough pizzas, we offer a par-baked thin crust. Each is served with a pepperoncini pepper.  We have a continuing “clean label” initiative to remove unwanted ingredients from our product offerings, such as synthetic colors, artificial flavors and preservatives, announcing in 2016 and 2017 that we had removed an additional fifteen unwanted ingredients across our entire food menu during the two years.

 

 

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We also offer limited-time pizzas on a regular basis and expect to continue to test new product offerings both domestically and internationally. The new products can become a part of the permanent menu if they meet certain internally established guidelines.

 

All ingredients and toppings can be purchased by our Company-owned and franchised restaurants from our North American Quality Control Center (“QC Center”) system, which delivers to individual restaurants twice weekly. To ensure consistent food quality, each domestic franchisee is required to purchase dough and pizza sauce from our QC Centers and to purchase all other supplies from our QC Centers or other approved suppliers. Internationally, the menu may be more diverse than in our domestic operations to meet local tastes and customs. Most QC Centers outside the U.S. are operated by franchisees pursuant to license agreements or by other third parties. The Company operates three international QC Centers in Mexico, the United Kingdom (“UK”), and China.  We provide significant assistance to licensed QC Centers in sourcing approved quality suppliers. All of the QC Centers are required to meet food safety and quality standards and to be in compliance with all applicable laws.

 

Efficient Operating System. We believe our operating and distribution systems, restaurant layout and designated delivery areas result in lower restaurant operating costs and improved food quality, and promote superior customer service. Our QC Center system takes advantage of volume purchasing of food and supplies and provides consistency and efficiencies of scale in fresh dough production. This eliminates the need for each restaurant to order food from multiple vendors and commit substantial labor and other resources to dough preparation.

 

Commitment to Team Member Training and Development. We are committed to the development and motivation of our team members through training programs, including our leadership development program, incentive and recognition programs and opportunities for advancement. Team member training programs are conducted for Company-owned restaurant team members, and operational training is offered to our franchisees. We offer performance-based financial incentives to corporate team members and restaurant managers.

 

Marketing. Our domestic marketing strategy consists of both national and local components. Our national strategy includes national advertising via television, print, direct mail, digital, mobile marketing and social media channels. Our digital marketing activities have increased significantly over the past several years in response to increasing consumer use of online and mobile web technology. Local advertising programs include television, radio, print, direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital, mobile marketing and local social media channels. See “Marketing Programs” below, which describes more local marketing programs.

 

In international markets, our marketing focuses on reaching customers who live or work within a small radius of a Papa John’s restaurant. Our international markets use a combination of advertising strategies, including television, radio, print, digital, mobile marketing and local social media depending on the size of the local market.

 

Technology. We use technology to deliver a better customer experience, focusing on key strategies that offer benefits to the customer as well as advancing our objectives of higher customer lifetime value, deeper brand affinity and greater sustained advantage over traditional and emerging competitors.

 

Our latest technology initiatives, such as launching a restaurant ordering app on Apple TV in 2016, build on our past milestones, which include the introduction of digital ordering across all our U.S. delivery restaurants in 2001 and the launch of a domestic digital rewards program in 2010.  In 2017, over 60% of domestic sales were placed through digital channels.  During 2017, we also became the first national pizza brand to integrate with Facebook Instant Ordering, expanded mobile app promotions, launched Papa Track with delivery status, enhanced social sharing and special digital discounts, strengthened alternative payments with the addition of PayPal, and targeted new “Perks” incentives for PAPA REWARDS® loyalty members.

 

Strong Franchise System. We are committed to developing and maintaining a strong franchise system by attracting experienced operators, supporting them to expand and grow their business and monitoring their compliance with our high standards. We seek to attract franchisees with experience in restaurant or retail operations and with the financial resources and management capability to open single or multiple locations. While each Papa John’s franchisee manages and operates

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its own restaurants and business, we devote significant resources to providing franchisees with assistance in restaurant operations, training, marketing, site selection and restaurant design.

 

Our strategy for global franchise unit growth focuses on our sound unit economics model. We strive to eliminate barriers to expansion in existing international markets, and identify new market opportunities. Our growth strategy varies based on the maturity and penetration of the market and other factors in specific domestic and international markets, with overall unit growth expected to come increasingly from international markets.

 

 

Restaurant Sales and Investment Costs

 

We are committed to maintaining sound restaurant unit economics. In 2017, the 676 domestic Company-owned restaurants included in the full year’s comparable restaurant base generated average annual unit sales of $1.19 million ($1.17 million on a 52-week basis). Our North American franchise restaurants, which included 2,403 restaurants in the full year’s comparable base for 2017, generated average annual unit sales of $908,000 ($891,000 on a 52-week basis). Average annual unit sales for North American franchise restaurants are lower than those of Company-owned restaurants as a higher percentage of our Company-owned restaurants are located in more heavily penetrated markets.

 

With only a few exceptions, domestic restaurants do not offer dine-in, which reduces our restaurant capital investment. The average cash investment for the seven domestic traditional Company-owned restaurants opened during 2017, exclusive of land, was approximately $354,000 per unit, compared to the $339,000 investment for the 12 domestic traditional units opened in 2016, excluding tenant allowances that we received. Over the past few years, we have experienced an increase in the cost of our new restaurants primarily as a result of building larger units to accommodate increased sales, an increase in the cost of certain equipment as a result of technology enhancements, and increased costs to comply with applicable regulations.

 

We define a “traditional” domestic Papa John’s restaurant as a delivery and carryout unit that services a defined trade area. We consider the location of a traditional restaurant to be important and therefore devote significant resources to the investigation and evaluation of potential sites. The site selection process includes a review of trade area demographics, target population density and competitive factors.  A member of our development team inspects each potential domestic Company-owned restaurant location and substantially all franchised restaurant locations before a site is approved. Papa John’s restaurants are typically located in strip shopping centers or freestanding buildings that provide visibility, curb appeal and accessibility. Our restaurant design can be configured to fit a wide variety of building shapes and sizes, which increases the number of suitable locations for our Company-owned and franchised restaurants. A typical traditional domestic Papa John’s restaurant averages 1,100 to 1,500 square feet with visible exterior signage.

 

“Non-traditional” Papa John’s restaurants generally do not provide delivery service but rather provide walk-up or carryout service to a captive customer group within a designated facility, such as a food court at an airport, university or military base or an event-driven service at facilities such as sports stadiums or entertainment venues. Non-traditional units are designed to fit the unique requirements of the venue and may not offer the full range of menu items available in our traditional restaurants.

 

All of our international restaurants are franchised, except for 35 Company-owned restaurants in Beijing and North China. Generally, our international Papa John’s restaurants are slightly smaller than our domestic restaurants and average between 900 and 1,400 square feet; however, in order to meet certain local customer preferences, some international restaurants have been opened in larger spaces to accommodate both dine-in and restaurant-based delivery service, ranging from 35 to 140 seats.

 

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Development

 

At December 31, 2017, there were 5,199 Papa John’s restaurants operating in all 50 states and in 44 international countries and territories, as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Company-owned

Franchised North America

Total North America

International

System-wide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning - December 25, 2016

702

2,739

3,441

1,656

5,097

Opened

 9

110

119

257

376

Closed

(3)

(116)

(119)

(155)

(274)

Acquired

 1

 1

 2

 -

 2

Sold

(1)

(1)

(2)

 -

(2)

Ending - December 31, 2017

708

2,733

3,441

1,758

5,199

 

Although most of our domestic Company-owned markets are well-penetrated, our Company-owned growth strategy is to continue to open domestic restaurants in existing markets as appropriate, thereby increasing consumer awareness and enabling us to take advantage of operational and marketing efficiencies. Our experience in developing markets indicates that market penetration through the opening of multiple restaurants in a particular market results in increased average restaurant sales in that market over time. We have co-developed domestic markets with some franchisees or divided markets among franchisees and will continue to utilize market co-development in the future, where appropriate.

 

Of the total 3,441 North American restaurants open as of December 31, 2017, 708 units, or approximately 20%, were Company-owned (including 246 restaurants owned in joint venture arrangements with franchisees in which the Company has a majority ownership position and control). Operating Company-owned restaurants allows us to improve operations, training, marketing and quality standards for the benefit of the entire system.  From time to time, we evaluate the purchase or sale of units or markets, which could change the percentage of Company-owned units.  Subsequent to December 31, 2017, we entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement to refranchise 31 jointly owned stores in the Denver, Colorado market to an existing franchisee.   

 

Of the 1,758 international restaurants open as of December 31, 2017, 35 units or 2.0% were Company-owned (all of which are located in Beijing and North China).  We plan to sell the Company-owned China restaurants and the China QC Center in 2018. Accordingly, as of December 31, 2017, the Company’s China operations, including these restaurants and the QC Center, are classified as held for sale in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

 

QC Center System and Supply Chain Management

 

Our North American QC Center system currently comprises 11 full-service regional production and distribution centers in the U.S., including a full-service QC Center in Georgia, which opened during 2017, that supply pizza sauce, dough, food products, paper products, smallwares and cleaning supplies twice weekly to each traditional restaurant it serves. Additionally, we have one QC Center in Canada, which produces and distributes fresh dough.  This system enables us to monitor and control product quality and consistency, while lowering food and other costs. We evaluate the QC Center system capacity in relation to existing restaurants’ volumes and planned restaurant growth, and facilities are developed or upgraded as operational or economic conditions warrant.

 

We currently own full-service international QC Centers in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom; Mexico City, Mexico; and Beijing, China. Other international QC Centers are licensed to franchisees or non-franchisee third parties and are generally located in the markets where our franchisees have restaurants.

 

We set quality standards for all products used in Papa John’s restaurants and designate approved outside suppliers of food and paper products that meet our quality standards.  To ensure product quality and consistency, all domestic Papa John’s restaurants are required to purchase pizza sauce and dough from QC Centers. Franchisees may purchase other goods directly from our QC Centers or other approved suppliers. National purchasing agreements with most of our suppliers generally result in volume discounts to us, allowing us to sell products to our restaurants at prices we believe are below

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those generally available to restaurants in the marketplace. Within our North American QC Center system, products are primarily distributed to restaurants by leased refrigerated trucks operated by us.

 

Marketing Programs

 

Our local restaurant-level marketing programs target consumers within the delivery area of each restaurant through the use of local television, radio, print materials, targeted direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital display advertising, email marketing, text messages and local social media. Local marketing efforts also include a variety of community-oriented activities within schools, sports venues and other organizations supported with some of the same advertising vehicles mentioned above.

 

Domestic Company-owned and franchised Papa John’s restaurants within a defined market may be required to join an area advertising cooperative (“Co-op”). Each member restaurant contributes a percentage of sales to the Co-op for market-wide programs, such as television, radio, digital and print advertising, and sports sponsorships. The rate of contribution and uses of the monies collected are determined by a majority vote of the Co-op’s members. The contribution rate for Co-ops generally may not be below 2% of sales without approval from Papa John’s.

 

The restaurant-level and Co-op marketing efforts are supported by media, print, digital and electronic advertising materials that are produced by Papa John’s Marketing Fund, Inc. (“PJMF”). PJMF is an unconsolidated nonstock corporation designed to operate at break-even for the purpose of designing and administering advertising and promotional programs for all participating domestic restaurants. PJMF produces and buys air time for Papa John’s national television commercials, buys digital media such as banner advertising, paid search-engine advertising, mobile marketing, social media advertising and marketing, text messaging, and email.  It also engages in other brand-building activities, such as consumer research and public relations activities. Domestic Company-owned and franchised Papa John’s restaurants are required to contribute a certain minimum percentage of sales to PJMF.  The contribution rate to PJMF can be set at up to 3% of sales, if approved by the governing board of PJMF, and beyond that level if approved by a supermajority of domestic restaurants. The domestic franchise system approved a new contribution rate of 4.25% effective in the fourth quarter of 2016. The rate will increase an additional 0.25% in annual increments until the rate reaches 5.0% of sales in 2019 and is currently 4.50%.

 

Our proprietary domestic digital ordering platform allows customers to order online, including “plan ahead ordering,” Apple TV ordering and Spanish-language ordering capability.  Digital payment platforms include VISA Checkout, PayPal, and Venmo PayShare.  We provide enhanced mobile ordering for our customers, including Papa John’s iPhone® and Android® applications. Our Papa Rewards® program is a customer loyalty program designed to increase loyalty and frequency; we offer this program domestically, in the UK, and in several international markets. We receive a percentage-based fee from North American franchisees for online sales, in addition to royalties, to defray development and operating costs associated with our digital ordering platform.  We believe continued innovation and investment in the design and functionality of our online and mobile platforms is critical to the success of our brand.

 

Our domestic restaurants offer customers the opportunity to purchase reloadable gift cards, sold as either a plastic gift card purchased in our restaurants, or an online digital card. Gift cards are sold to consumers on our website, through third-party retailers, and in bulk to business entities and organizations. We continue to explore other gift card distribution opportunities. Gift cards may be redeemed for delivery, carryout, and digital orders and are accepted at all Papa John’s traditional domestic restaurants.

 

We provide both Company-owned and franchised restaurants with pre-approved marketing materials and catalogs for the purchase of promotional items. We also provide direct marketing services to Company-owned and domestic franchised restaurants using customer information gathered by our proprietary point-of-sale technology (see “Company Operations —North America Point-of-Sale Technology”). In addition, we provide database tools, templates and training for operators to facilitate local email marketing and text messaging through our approved tools.

 

In international markets, our marketing focuses on customers who live or work within a small radius of a Papa John’s restaurant. Certain markets can effectively use television and radio as part of their marketing strategies. The majority of the marketing efforts include using print materials such as flyers, newspaper inserts, in-store marketing materials, and to a growing extent, digital marketing such as display, search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing, email, and

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text messaging. Local marketing efforts, such as sponsoring or participating in community events, sporting events and school programs, are also used to build customer awareness.

 

Company Operations

 

Domestic Restaurant Personnel.  A typical Papa John’s Company-owned domestic restaurant employs a restaurant manager and approximately 20 to 25 hourly team members, many of whom work part-time. The manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the restaurant and maintaining Company-established operating standards. We seek to hire experienced restaurant managers and staff and provide comprehensive training programs in areas such as operations and managerial skills. We also employ directors of operations who are responsible for overseeing an average of seven Company-owned restaurants. Senior management and corporate staff also support the field teams in many areas, including, but not limited to, quality assurance, food safety, training, marketing and technology. We seek to motivate and retain personnel by providing opportunities for advancement and performance-based financial incentives.

 

Training and Education. The Global Operations Support and Training department is responsible for creating tools and materials for the operational training and development of both corporate and franchise team members. We believe training is very important to delivering consistent operational execution. Operations personnel complete our management training program and ongoing development programs, including multi-unit training, in which instruction is given on all aspects of our systems and operations.

 

North America Point-of-Sale Technology. Our proprietary point-of-sale technology, “FOCUS”, is in place in all North America traditional Papa John’s restaurants. We believe this technology facilitates fast and accurate order-taking and pricing, and allows the restaurant manager to better monitor and control food and labor costs, including food inventory management and order placement from QC Centers. The system allows us to obtain restaurant operating information, providing us with timely access to sales and customer information. The FOCUS system is also integrated with our digital ordering solutions in all North American traditional Papa John’s restaurants.

 

Domestic Hours of Operation.  Our domestic restaurants are open seven days a week, typically from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12:00 noon to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. Carryout hours are generally more limited for late night, for security purposes.

 

Franchise Program

 

General. We continue to attract qualified and experienced franchisees, whom we consider to be a vital part of our system’s continued growth.  We believe our relationship with our franchisees is good. As of December 31, 2017, there were 4,456 franchised Papa John’s restaurants operating in all 50 states and 44 countries and territories.  During 2017, our franchisees opened an additional 367 (110 North America and 257 internationally) restaurants, which includes the opening of Papa John’s restaurants in two new countries.  As of December 31, 2017, we have development agreements with our franchisees for approximately 200 additional North America restaurants, the majority of which are committed to open over the next two to three years, and agreements for approximately 990 additional international franchised restaurants, the majority of which are scheduled to open over the next six years. There can be no assurance that all of these restaurants will be opened or that the development schedules set forth in the development agreements will be achieved.

 

Approval. Franchisees are approved on the basis of the applicant’s business background, restaurant operating experience and financial resources. We seek franchisees to enter into development agreements for single or multiple restaurants. We require each franchisee to complete our training program or to hire a full-time operator who completes the training and has either an equity interest or the right to acquire an equity interest in the franchise operation. For most non-traditional operations and for operations outside the United States, we will allow an approved operator bonus plan to substitute for the equity interest.

 

North America Development and Franchise Agreements. We enter into development agreements with our franchisees in North America for the opening of a specified number of restaurants within a defined period of time and specified geographic area. Our standard domestic development agreement includes a fee of $25,000 before consideration of any incentives. The franchise agreement is generally executed once a franchisee secures a location. Our current standard

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franchise agreement requires the franchisee to pay a royalty fee of 5% of sales, and the majority of our existing franchised restaurants have a 5% royalty rate in effect.

 

Over the past several years, we have offered various development incentive programs for domestic franchisees to accelerate unit openings. Such incentives included the following for 2017 traditional openings: (1) waiver of the standard one-time $25,000 franchise fee if the unit opens on time in accordance with the agreed-upon development schedule, or a reduced fee of $5,000 if the unit opens late; (2) the waiver of some or all of the 5% royalty fee for a period of time; (3) a credit for a portion of the purchase of certain leased equipment; and (4) a credit to be applied toward a future food purchase, under certain circumstances. We believe development incentive programs have accelerated unit openings.

 

Substantially all existing franchise agreements have an initial 10-year term with a 10-year renewal option. We have the right to terminate a franchise agreement for a variety of reasons, including a franchisee’s failure to make payments when due or failure to adhere to our operational policies and standards. Many state franchise laws limit our ability as a franchisor to terminate or refuse to renew a franchise.

 

We provide assistance to Papa John’s franchisees in selecting sites, developing restaurants and evaluating the physical specifications for typical restaurants. We provide layout and design services and recommendations for subcontractors, signage installers and telephone systems to Papa John’s franchisees. Our franchisees can purchase complete new store equipment packages through an approved third-party supplier. We sell replacement smallwares and related items to our franchisees.  Each franchisee is responsible for selecting the location for its restaurants, but must obtain our approval of the restaurant design and location based on traffic accessibility and visibility of the site and targeted demographic factors, including population density, income, age and traffic.

 

Domestic Franchise Support Initiatives. From time to time, we offer discretionary support initiatives to our domestic franchisees, including:

 

·

Performance-based incentives;

·

Targeted royalty relief and local marketing support to assist certain identified franchisees or markets;

·

Restaurant opening incentives; and

·

Reduced-cost direct mail campaigns from Preferred Marketing Solutions (“Preferred,” our wholly owned print and promotions subsidiary).

 

In 2018, we plan to offer some or all of these domestic franchise support initiatives, with a particular focus of providing assistance to franchisees in emerging and/or high cost markets.

 

International Development and Franchise Agreements.  We opened our first franchised restaurant outside the United States in 1998. We define “international” as all markets outside the United States and Canada.  In international markets, we have either a development agreement or a master franchise agreement with a franchisee for the opening of a specified number of restaurants within a defined period of time and specified geographic area. Under a master franchise agreement, the franchisee has the right to sub-franchise a portion of the development to one or more sub-franchisees approved by us. Under our current standard international development or master franchise agreement, the franchisee is required to pay total fees of $25,000 per restaurant: $5,000 at the time of signing the agreement and $20,000 when the restaurant opens or on the agreed-upon development date, whichever comes first. Additionally, under our current standard master franchise agreement, the master franchisee is required to pay $15,000 for each sub-franchised restaurant — $5,000 at the time of signing the agreement and $10,000 when the restaurant opens or on the agreed-upon development date, whichever comes first.

 

Our current standard international master franchise and development agreements provide for payment to us of a royalty fee of 5% of sales. For international markets with sub-franchise agreements, the effective sub-franchise royalty received by the Company is generally 3% of sales and the master franchisee generally receives a royalty of 2% of sales. The remaining terms applicable to the operation of individual restaurants are substantially equivalent to the terms of our domestic franchise agreement. From time to time, development agreements will be negotiated at other-than-standard terms for fees and royalties, and we may offer various development and royalty incentives to help drive net unit growth and results.

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Non-traditional Restaurant Development. We had 256 non-traditional domestic restaurants at December 31, 2017. Non-traditional restaurants generally cover venues or areas not originally targeted for traditional unit development, and our franchised non-traditional restaurants have terms differing from the standard agreements.

 

Franchisee Loans. Selected domestic and international franchisees have borrowed funds from us, principally for the purchase of restaurants from us or other franchisees or for construction and development of new restaurants. Loans made to franchisees can bear interest at fixed or floating rates and in most cases are secured by the fixtures, equipment and signage of the restaurant and/or are guaranteed by the franchise owners. At December 31, 2017, net loans outstanding totaled $19.9 million. See “Note 11” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Domestic Franchise Training and Support. Our domestic field support structure consists of franchise business directors, each of whom is responsible for serving an average of 165 franchised units. Our franchise business directors maintain open communication with the franchise community, relaying operating and marketing information and new initiatives between franchisees and us.

 

Every franchisee is required to have a principal operator approved by us who satisfactorily completes our required training program. Principal operators for traditional restaurants are required to devote their full business time and efforts to the operation of the franchisee’s traditional restaurants. Each franchised restaurant manager is also required to complete our Company-certified management operations training program. Ongoing compliance with training is monitored by the Global Operations Support and Training team. Multi-unit franchisees are encouraged to appoint training store general managers or hire a full-time training coordinator certified to deliver Company-approved operational training programs.

 

International Franchise Operations Support. We employ or contract with international business directors who are responsible for supporting one or more franchisees. The international business directors usually report to regional vice presidents. Senior management and corporate staff also support the international field teams in many areas, including, but not limited to, food safety, quality assurance, marketing, technology, operations training and financial analysis.

 

Franchise Operations. All franchisees are required to operate their Papa John’s restaurants in compliance with our policies, standards and specifications, including matters such as menu items, ingredients, and restaurant design. Franchisees have full discretion in human resource practices, and generally have full discretion to determine the prices to be charged to customers, but we have the authority to set maximum price points for nationally advertised promotions.

 

Franchise Advisory Council. We have a franchise advisory council that consists of Company and franchisee representatives of domestic restaurants. We also have a franchise advisory council in the United Kingdom and a newly formed Brand Advisory Council consisting of franchisees throughout the world. The various councils and subcommittees hold regular meetings to discuss new product and marketing ideas, operations, growth and other business issues. From time to time, certain domestic franchisees have also formed a separate franchise association for the purpose of communicating and addressing issues, needs and opportunities among its members.

 

We currently communicate with, and receive input from, our franchisees in several forms, including through the various councils, annual operations conferences, system communications, national conference calls, various regional meetings conducted with franchisees throughout the year and ongoing communications from franchise business directors and international business directors in the field. Monthly webcasts are also conducted by the Company to discuss current operational, marketing and other issues affecting the domestic franchisees’ business. We are committed to communicating with our franchisees and receiving input from them.

 

Industry and Competition

 

The United States Quick Service Restaurant pizza (“QSR Pizza”) industry is mature and highly competitive with respect to price, service, location, food quality and product innovation. There are well-established competitors with substantially greater financial and other resources than Papa John’s. The category is largely fragmented and competitors include international, national and regional chains, as well as a large number of local independent pizza operators, any of which can utilize a growing number of food delivery services.  Some of our competitors have been in existence for substantially

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longer periods than Papa John’s and can have higher levels of restaurant penetration and stronger, more developed brand awareness in markets where we compete. According to industry sources, domestic QSR Pizza category sales, which includes dine-in, carry out and delivery, totaled approximately $36 billion in 2017, or an increase of 1% from the prior year.   Competition from delivery aggregators and other food delivery concepts continues to increase.

 

With respect to the sale of franchises, we compete with many franchisors of restaurants and other business concepts. There is also active competition for management personnel, drivers and hourly team members, and attractive commercial real estate sites suitable for Papa John’s restaurants.

 

Government Regulation

 

We, along with our franchisees, are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws affecting the operation of our respective businesses, including laws and regulations related to the preparation and sale of food, including food safety and menu labeling. Each Papa John’s restaurant is subject to licensing and regulation by a number of governmental authorities, which include zoning, health, safety, sanitation, building and fire agencies in the state or municipality in which the restaurant is located. Difficulties in obtaining, or the failure to obtain, required licenses or approvals could delay or prevent the opening of a new restaurant in a particular area. Our QC Centers are licensed and subject to regulation by state and local health and fire codes, and the operation of our trucks is subject to federal and state transportation regulations. We are also subject to federal and state environmental regulations. In addition, our domestic operations are subject to various federal and state laws governing such matters as minimum wage requirements, benefits, working conditions, citizenship requirements, and overtime.

 

We are subject to Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regulation and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. The laws of several states also regulate substantive aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. The FTC requires us to furnish to prospective franchisees a franchise disclosure document containing prescribed information. State laws that regulate the franchisor-franchisee relationship presently exist in a significant number of states, and bills have been introduced in Congress from time to time that would provide for federal regulation of the U.S. franchisor-franchisee relationship in certain respects if such bills were enacted. State laws often limit, among other things, the duration and scope of non-competition provisions and the ability of a franchisor to terminate or refuse to renew a franchise. Some foreign countries also have disclosure requirements and other laws regulating franchising and the franchisor-franchisee relationship. National, state and local government regulations or initiatives, including health care legislation, “living wage,” or other current or proposed regulations, and increases in minimum wage rates affect Papa John’s as well as others within the restaurant industry. As we expand internationally, we are also subject to applicable laws in each jurisdiction.

 

We are increasingly subject to laws and regulations that require us to disclose calorie content and other specific content of our food, including fat, trans fat, and salt content. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires us and many restaurant companies to disclose calorie information on restaurant menus. The Food and Drug Administration issued final rules to implement this provision, which require restaurants to post the number of calories for most items on menus or menu boards and to make available certain other nutritional information. The implementation of these regulations was delayed until May 2018.  A number of states, counties and cities in which we do business have also enacted menu labeling laws,  but these local laws will be superseded by the federal laws once the federal laws go into effect.  Government regulation of nutrition disclosure could result in increased costs of compliance and could also impact consumer habits in a way that adversely impacts sales at our restaurants. For further information regarding governmental regulation, see Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 

Trademarks, Copyrights and Domain Names

 

Our intellectual property rights are a significant part of our business. We have registered and continue to maintain federal registrations through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) for the marks PAPA JOHN’S, PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S & Design (our logo), BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA., PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA., PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. & Design, and PAPA REWARDS.  We also own federal registrations through the USPTO for several ancillary marks, principally advertising slogans. Moreover, we have registrations for and/or have applied for PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S & Design in more than 100 foreign countries and the European Community, in addition to international registrations for PAPA JOHN’S and

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PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. & Design in various foreign countries.  From time to time, we are made aware of the use by other persons in certain geographical areas of names and marks that are the same as or substantially similar to our marks. It is our policy to pursue registration of our marks whenever possible and to vigorously oppose any infringement of our marks.

 

We hold copyrights in authored works used in our business, including advertisements, packaging, training, website, and promotional materials. In addition, we have registered and maintain Internet domain names, including “papajohns.com,” and approximately 83 country code domains patterned as papajohns.cc, or a close variation thereof, with “.cc” representing a specific country code.

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2017, we employed approximately 22,400 persons, of whom approximately 19,400 were restaurant team members, approximately 900 were restaurant management personnel, approximately 900 were corporate personnel and approximately 1,200 were QC Center and Preferred personnel. Most restaurant team members work part-time and are paid on an hourly basis. None of our team members are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our team member relations to be good.

 

 

Item 1A.  Risk Factors

 

We are subject to risks that could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. These risks could cause actual operating results to differ from those expressed in certain “forward looking statements” contained in this Form 10-K as well as in other Company communications. Before you invest in our securities, you should carefully consider the following risk factors together with all other information included in this Form 10-K and our other publicly filed documents.

 

Our profitability may suffer as a result of intense competition in our industry.

 

The QSR Pizza industry is mature and highly competitive. Competition is based on price, service, location, food quality, brand recognition and loyalty, product innovation, effectiveness of marketing and promotional activity, use of technology, and the ability to identify and satisfy consumer preferences. We may need to reduce the prices for some of our products to respond to competitive and customer pressures, which may adversely affect our profitability. When commodity and other costs increase, we may be limited in our ability to increase prices. With the significant level of competition and the pace of innovation, we may be required to increase investment spending in several areas, particularly marketing and technology, which can decrease profitability.

 

In addition to competition with our larger and more established competitors, we face competition from new competitors and concepts such as fast casual pizza concepts. We also face competitive pressures from food delivery concepts using new delivery technologies, some of which may have more effective marketing.  The emergence or growth of new competitors, in the pizza category or in the food service industry generally, may make it difficult for us to maintain or increase our market share and could negatively impact our sales and our system-wide restaurant operations.   We face increasing competition from delivery aggregators, delivering food from quick-service or dine-in restaurants, as well as other home delivery services and grocery stores that offer an increasing variety of prepped or prepared meals in response to consumer demand. As a result, our sales can be directly and negatively impacted by actions of our competitors, the emergence or growth of new competitors, consumer sentiment or other factors outside our control.

 

One of our competitive strengths is our “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” brand promise. This means we may use ingredients that cost more than the ingredients some of our competitors may use. Because of our investment in higher-quality ingredients and our focus on a “clean label”, we could have lower profit margins than some of our competitors if we are not able to establish or maintain premium pricing for our products.

 

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Changes in consumer preferences or discretionary consumer spending could adversely impact our results.

 

Changes in consumer preferences and trends (for example, changes in consumer perceptions of certain ingredients that could cause consumers to avoid pizza or some of its ingredients in favor of foods that are or are perceived as more healthy, lower-calorie or otherwise based on their ingredients or nutritional content) or preferences for a dining experience such as fast casual pizza concepts, could adversely affect our restaurant business and reduce the effectiveness of our marketing and technology initiatives. Also, our success depends to a significant extent on numerous factors affecting consumer confidence and discretionary consumer income and spending, such as general economic conditions, customer sentiment and the level of employment. Any factors that could cause consumers to spend less on food or shift to lower-priced products could reduce sales or inhibit our ability to maintain or increase pricing, which could materially adversely affect our operating results.

 

Food safety and quality concerns may negatively impact our business and profitability.

 

Incidents or reports of food- or water-borne illness or other food safety issues, investigations or other actions by food safety regulators, food contamination or tampering, employee hygiene and cleanliness failures, improper franchisee or employee conduct, or presence of communicable disease at our restaurants (Company-owned and franchised), QC Centers, or suppliers could lead to product liability or other claims. If we were to experience any such incidents or reports, our brand and reputation could be negatively impacted. This could result in a significant decrease in customer traffic and could negatively impact our revenues and profits. Similar incidents or reports occurring at quick service restaurants unrelated to us could likewise create negative publicity, which could negatively impact consumer behavior towards us.

 

We rely on our domestic and international suppliers, as do our franchisees, to provide quality ingredients and to comply with applicable laws and industry standards. A failure of one of our domestic or international suppliers to meet our quality standards, or meet domestic or international food industry standards, could result in a disruption in our supply chain and negatively impact our brand and our results.

 

Failure to preserve the value and relevance of our brand could have a negative impact on our financial results.

 

Our results depend upon our ability to differentiate our brand and our reputation for quality. Damage to our brand or reputation could negatively impact our business and financial results. Our brand has been highly rated in U.S. surveys, and we strive to build the value of our brand as we develop international markets. The value of our brand and demand for our products could be damaged by any incidents that harm consumer perceptions of the Company.

 

To be successful in the future, we believe we must preserve, enhance and leverage the value of our brand. Consumer perceptions of our brand are affected by a variety of factors, such as the nutritional content and preparation of our food, the quality of the ingredients we use, our business practices and the manner in which we source the commodities we use. Consumer acceptance of our offerings is subject to change for a variety of reasons, and some changes can occur rapidly.  Consumer perceptions may also be affected by third parties presenting or promoting adverse commentary or portrayals of our industry, our brand, our suppliers or our franchisees.  If we are unsuccessful in managing incidents that erode consumer trust or confidence, particularly if such incidents receive considerable publicity or result in litigation, our brand value and financial results could be negatively impacted.

 

Our inability or failure to recognize, respond to and effectively manage the accelerated impact of social media could adversely impact our business.

 

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the use of social media platforms, including blogs, chat platforms, social media websites, and other forms of Internet-based communications that allow individuals access to a broad audience of consumers and other persons. The rising popularity of social media and other consumer-oriented technologies has increased the speed and accessibility of information dissemination. The dissemination of information via social media could harm our business, brand, reputation, marketing partners, financial condition, and results of operations, regardless of the information’s accuracy.

 

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In addition, we frequently use social media to communicate with consumers and the public in general. Failure to use social media effectively could lead to a decline in brand value and revenue. Other risks associated with the use of social media include improper disclosure of proprietary information, negative comments about our brand, exposure of personally identifiable information, fraud, hoaxes or malicious dissemination of false information.

 

We may not be able to effectively market our products or maintain key marketing partnerships.

 

The success of our business depends on the effectiveness of our marketing and promotional plans. We may not be able to effectively execute our national or local marketing plans, particularly if lower sales result in reduced levels of marketing funds. Our marketing strategy utilizes relationships with well-known sporting events, athletes, celebrity personalities and our brand spokesman to market our products. Our business could suffer if we are not able to maintain key marketing relationships and sponsorships, or if we are unable to do so at a reasonable cost, and could require additional investments in alternative marketing strategies. Actions taken by persons or marketing partners who endorse our products, could harm their reputations and could also cause harm to our brand. From time to time, in response to changes in the business environment and the audience share of marketing channels, we expect to reallocate marketing resources across social media and other channels. That reallocation may not be effective or as successful as the marketing and advertising allocations of our competitors, which could negatively impact the amount and timing of our revenues.

 

Our franchise business model presents a number of risks.

 

Our success increasingly relies on the financial success and cooperation of our franchisees, yet we have limited influence over their operations. Our franchisees manage their businesses independently, and therefore are responsible for the day-to-day operation of their restaurants. The revenues we realize from franchised restaurants are largely dependent on the ability of our franchisees to grow their sales. If our franchisees do not experience sales growth, our revenues and margins could be negatively affected as a result. Also, if sales trends worsen for franchisees, especially in emerging markets and/or high cost markets, their financial results may deteriorate, which could result in, among other things, restaurant closures, reduced number of restaurant openings or delayed or reduced payments to us.

 

Our success also increasingly depends on the willingness and ability of our franchisees to remain aligned with us on operating and promotional plans. Franchisees’ ability to contribute to the achievement of our plans is dependent in large part on the availability to them of funding at reasonable interest rates and may be negatively impacted by the financial markets in general or by the creditworthiness of our franchisees. Our operating performance could also be negatively affected if our franchisees experience food safety or other operational problems or project an image inconsistent with our brand and values, particularly if our contractual and other rights and remedies are limited, costly to exercise or subjected to litigation. If franchisees do not successfully operate restaurants in a manner consistent with our required standards, the brand’s image and reputation could be harmed, which in turn could hurt our business and operating results.

 

Changes in privacy laws could adversely affect our ability to market our products effectively.

 

We rely on a variety of direct marketing techniques, including email, text messages and postal mailings. Any future restrictions in federal, state or foreign laws regarding marketing and solicitation or international data protection laws that govern these activities could adversely affect the continuing effectiveness of email, text messages and postal mailing techniques and could force changes in our marketing strategies. If this occurs, we may need to develop alternative marketing strategies, which may not be as effective and could impact the amount and timing of our revenues.

 

We may not be able to execute our strategy or achieve our planned growth targets, which could negatively impact our business and our financial results.

 

Our growth strategy depends on our and our franchisees’ ability to open new restaurants and to operate them on a profitable basis. We expect substantially all of our international unit growth and much of our domestic unit growth to be franchised units. Accordingly, our profitability increasingly depends upon royalty revenues from franchisees. If our franchisees are not able to operate their businesses successfully under our franchised business model, our results could suffer. Additionally, we may fail to attract new qualified franchisees or existing franchisees may close underperforming locations. Planned growth targets and the ability to operate new and existing restaurants profitably are affected by economic,

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regulatory and competitive conditions and consumer buying habits. A decrease in sales, or increased commodity or operating costs, including, but not limited to, employee compensation and benefits or insurance costs, could slow the rate of new store openings or increase the number of store closings. Our business is susceptible to adverse changes in local, national and global economic conditions, which could make it difficult for us to meet our growth targets. Additionally, we or our franchisees may face challenges securing financing, finding suitable store locations at acceptable terms or securing required domestic or foreign government permits and approvals.  If we do not meet our growth targets or the expectations of the market for net restaurant openings or our other strategic objectives, our stock price could decline.

 

Our franchisees remain dependent on the availability of financing to remodel or renovate existing locations, upgrade systems and enhance technology, or construct and open new restaurants. From time to time, the Company may provide financing to certain franchisees and prospective franchisees in order to mitigate store closings, allow new units to open, or complete required upgrades. If we are unable or unwilling to provide such financing, which is a function of, among other things, a franchisee’s credit worthiness, the number of new restaurant openings may be slower or the rate of closures may be higher than expected and our results of operations may be adversely impacted. To the extent we provide financing to franchisees, our results could be negatively impacted by negative performance of these franchisee loans.

 

We may be adversely impacted by increases in the cost of food ingredients and other costs.

 

We are exposed to fluctuations in commodities. An increase in the cost or sustained high levels of the cost of cheese or other commodities could adversely affect the profitability of our system-wide restaurant operations, particularly if we are unable to increase the selling price of our products to offset increased costs. Cheese, representing our largest food cost, and other commodities can be subject to significant cost fluctuations due to weather, availability, global demand and other factors that are beyond our control. Additionally, increases in labor, mileage, insurance, fuel, and other costs could adversely affect the profitability of our restaurant and QC Center businesses. Most of the factors affecting costs in our system-wide restaurant operations are beyond our control, and we may not be able to adequately mitigate these costs or pass along these costs to our customers or franchisees, given the significant competitive pricing pressures.

 

Our dependence on a sole supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some ingredients could result in disruptions to our business.

 

Domestic restaurants purchase substantially all food and related products from our QC Centers. We are dependent on Leprino Foods Dairy Products Company (“Leprino”) as our sole supplier for cheese, one of our key ingredients. Leprino, one of the major pizza category suppliers of cheese in the United States, currently supplies all of our cheese domestically and substantially all of our cheese internationally. We also depend on a sole source for our supply of certain desserts, which constitutes less than 10% of our domestic Company-owned restaurant sales. While we have no other sole sources of supply for key ingredients or menu items, we do source other key ingredients from a limited number of suppliers. Alternative sources of cheese, desserts, other key ingredients or menu items may not be available on a timely basis or may not be available on terms as favorable to us as under our current arrangements.

 

Our Company-owned and franchised restaurants could also be harmed by a prolonged disruption in the supply of products from or to our QC Centers due to weather, climate change, natural disasters, crop disease, food safety incidents, regulatory compliance, labor dispute or interruption of service by carriers. In particular, adverse weather or crop disease affecting the California tomato crop could disrupt the supply of pizza sauce to our and our franchisees’ restaurants. Insolvency of key suppliers could also cause similar business interruptions and negatively impact our business.

 

Natural disasters, hostilities, social unrest and other catastrophic events may disrupt our operations or supply chain.

 

The occurrence of a natural disaster, hostilities, epidemic, cyber-attack, social unrest, terrorist activity or other catastrophic events may result in the closure of our restaurants (Company-owned or franchised), our corporate office, any of our QC Centers or the facilities of our suppliers, and can adversely affect consumer spending, consumer confidence levels and supply availability and costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.

 

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Changes in purchasing practices by our domestic franchisees could harm our commissary business.

 

Although our domestic franchisees currently purchase substantially all food products from our QC Centers, the only

required QC Center purchases by franchisees are pizza sauce, dough and other items we may designate as proprietary or integral to our system. Any changes in purchasing practices by domestic franchisees, such as seeking alternative approved suppliers of ingredients or other food products, could adversely affect the financial results of our QC Centers and the Company

 

Our current insurance may not be adequate and we may experience claims in excess of our reserves.

 

Our insurance programs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned vehicles, general liability, property and team member health insurance coverage are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels, generally ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. These insurance programs may not be adequate to protect us, and it may be difficult or impossible to obtain additional coverage or maintain current coverage at a reasonable cost. We also have experienced increasing claims volatility and higher related costs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned vehicles and health claims. We estimate loss reserves based on historical trends, actuarial assumptions and other data available to us, but we may not be able to accurately estimate reserves. If we experience claims in excess of our projections, our business could be negatively impacted.  Our franchisees could be similarly impacted by higher claims experience, hurting both their operating results and/or limiting their ability to maintain adequate insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

 

Our international operations are subject to increased risks and other factors that may make it more difficult to achieve or maintain profitability or meet planned growth rates.

 

Our international operations could be negatively impacted by volatility and instability in international economic, political, security or health conditions in the countries in which the Company or our franchisees operate, especially in emerging markets. In addition, there are risks associated with differing business and social cultures and consumer preferences. We may face limited availability for restaurant locations, higher location costs and difficulties in franchisee selection and financing. We may be subject to difficulties in sourcing and importing high-quality ingredients (and ensuring food safety) in a cost-effective manner, hiring and retaining qualified team members, marketing effectively and adequately investing in information technology, especially in emerging markets.

 

Our international operations are also subject to additional risk factors, including import and export controls, compliance with anti-corruption and other foreign laws, difficulties enforcing intellectual property and contract rights in foreign jurisdictions, and the imposition of increased or new tariffs or trade barriers. We intend to continue to expand internationally, which would make the risks related to our international operations more significant over time.

 

Our international results, which are substantially franchised, depend heavily on the operating capabilities and financial strength of our franchisees. Any changes in the ability of our franchisees to run their stores profitably in accordance with our operating procedures, or to effectively sub franchise stores, could result in brand damage, a higher number of restaurant closures and a reduction in the number of new restaurant openings.  Our international Company-owned store presence is currently limited to our stores in China, which are classified as held for sale, as we intend to divest those operations  in 2018. 

 

Sales made by our franchisees in international markets and certain loans we provide to such franchisees are denominated in their local currencies, and fluctuations in the U.S. dollar occur relative to the local currencies. Accordingly, changes in currency exchange rates will cause our revenues, investment income and operating results to fluctuate. We have not historically hedged our exposure to foreign currency fluctuations. Our international revenues and earnings may be adversely impacted as the U.S. dollar rises against foreign currencies because the local currency will translate into fewer U.S. dollars.  Additionally, the value of certain assets or loans denominated in local currencies may deteriorate. Other items denominated in U.S. dollars including product imports or loans may also become more expensive, putting pressure on franchisees’ cash flows.

 

With increased indebtedness, we may have reduced availability of cash flow for other purposes. Increases in interest rates would also increase our debt service costs and could materially impact our profitability as well as the profitability of our franchisees.

 

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We currently have total indebtedness of $470 million outstanding under our existing credit facility, which accrues interest at variable interest rates. With this higher debt level and anticipated future borrowings, we may have reduced available cash flow to plan for or react to business changes, changes in the industry or any general adverse economic conditions.

 

Under our credit facility, we are exposed to variable interest rates.  We have entered into interest rate swaps that fix a portion of our interest rates, but an increase in interest expense, whether because of an increase in market interest rates or an increase in borrowings, would increase the cost of servicing our debt and could materially reduce our profitability. By using a derivative instrument to hedge exposures to changes in interest rates, we also expose ourselves to credit risk. Credit risk is due to the possible failure of the counterparty to perform under the terms of the derivative contract. 

 

Higher inflation, and a related increase in costs, including rising interest rates, could also impact our franchisees and their ability to open new restaurants or operate existing restaurants profitably.

 

Increasingly complex laws and regulations could adversely affect our business.

 

We operate in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, and the cost of regulatory compliance is increasing. Our failure, or the failure of any of our franchisees, to comply with applicable U.S. and international labor, health care, food, health and safety, consumer protection, anti-bribery and corruption, competition, environmental and other laws may result in civil and criminal liability, damages, fines and penalties. Enforcement of existing laws and regulations, changes in legal requirements, and/or evolving interpretations of existing regulatory requirements may result in increased compliance costs and create other obligations, financial or otherwise, that could adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results. Increased regulatory scrutiny of food matters and product marketing claims, and increased litigation and enforcement actions may increase compliance and legal costs and create other obligations that could adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results. Governments may also impose requirements and restrictions that impact our business. For example, some local government agencies have implemented ordinances that restrict the sale of certain food or drink products.

 

Compliance with new or additional domestic and international government laws or regulations, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which will take effect in May 2018,  could increase costs for compliance.  These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number, change frequently and increasingly conflict among the various countries in which we operate, which has resulted in greater compliance risk and costs. If we fail to comply with these laws or regulations, we could be subject to reputational damage and significant litigation, monetary damages, regulatory enforcement actions or fines in various jurisdictions. For example, a failure to comply with the GDPR could result in fines up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues.

 

Higher labor costs and increased competition for qualified team members increases the cost of doing business and ensuring adequate staffing in our restaurants. Additionally, changes in employment and labor laws, including health care legislation and minimum wage increases, could increase costs for our system-wide operations.

 

Our success depends in part on our and our franchisees’ ability to recruit, motivate and retain a qualified workforce to work in our restaurants in an intensely competitive environment. Increased costs associated with recruiting, motivating and retaining qualified employees to work in Company-owned and franchised restaurants have had a negative impact on our Company-owned restaurant margins and the margins of franchised restaurants.  Competition for qualified drivers also continues to increase as more companies enter the delivery space, including third party aggregators. Additionally, economic action, such as boycotts, protests, work stoppages or campaigns by labor organizations, could adversely affect us (including our ability to recruit and retain talent) or our franchisees and suppliers whose performance may have a material impact on our results. Social media may be used to foster negative perceptions of employment in our industry and promote strikes or boycotts.

 

We are also subject to federal, state and foreign laws governing such matters as minimum wage requirements, overtime compensation, benefits, working conditions, citizenship requirements and discrimination and family and medical leave. Labor costs and labor-related benefits are primary components in the cost of operation of our restaurants and QC Centers.  Labor shortages, increased employee turnover and health care mandates could increase our system-wide labor costs.

 

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A significant number of hourly personnel are paid at rates close to the federal and state minimum wage requirements. Accordingly, the enactment of additional state or local minimum wage increases above federal wage rates or regulations related to exempt employees has increased and could continue to increase labor costs for our domestic system-wide operations.

 

The Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010, requires employers such as us to provide health insurance for all qualifying employees in the United States or pay penalties for not providing coverage. We, like other industry competitors, are complying with the law and are providing more extensive health benefits to employees than we had previously provided, and are subsidizing a larger portion of their insurance premiums. These additional costs, or costs related to future healthcare regulation, could negatively impact our operational results. In addition, our franchisees subject to the ACA or future healthcare legislation could face additional cost pressures from compliance with the legislation, which could reduce their future expansion of units.

 

Failure to retain the services of our Founder, John Schnatter, as Chairman and brand spokesman, or to successfully execute succession planning and attract talented team members, could harm our Company and brand.

 

John H. Schnatter, is our Founder and Chairman. We do not maintain key man life insurance on Mr. Schnatter, although we depend on the continued availability of his image and his services as spokesman in our advertising and promotion materials. While we have entered into a license agreement with Mr. Schnatter related to the use of certain intellectual property related to his name, likeness and image, our business and brand may be harmed if Mr. Schnatter’s services were not available to the Company or the reputation of Mr. Schnatter were negatively impacted, including by social media or otherwise. The Company recently appointed Steve Richie to serve as Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Mr. Schnatter in that role. If we are not able to effectively execute this Chief Executive Officer succession and future succession planning, or manage any related organizational change, it could harm our Company and brand. Failure to effectively identify, develop and retain other key personnel, recruit high-quality candidates and ensure smooth management and personnel transitions could also disrupt our business and adversely affect our results.

 

The concentration of stock ownership with Mr. Schnatter may influence the outcome of certain matters requiring stockholder approval.

 

The concentration of stock ownership by our Founder and Chairman allows him to substantially influence the outcome of certain matters requiring stockholder approval. As of December 31, 2017, Mr. Schnatter beneficially owned approximately 29% of our outstanding common stock. As a result, he may be able to substantially influence the strategic direction of the Company and the outcome of matters requiring approval by our stockholders.

 

We rely on information technology to operate our businesses and maintain our competitiveness, and any failure to invest in or adapt to technological developments or industry trends could harm our business.

 

We rely heavily on information systems, including digital ordering solutions, through which over half of our domestic sales originate. We also rely heavily on point-of-sale processing in our Company-owned and franchised restaurants for data collection and payment systems for the collection of cash, credit and debit card transactions, and other processes and procedures. Our ability to efficiently and effectively manage our business depends on the reliability and capacity of these technology systems. In addition, we anticipate that consumers will continue to have more options to place orders digitally, both domestically and internationally. Our failure to adequately invest in new technology, adapt to technological developments and industry trends, particularly our digital ordering capabilities, could result in a loss of customers and related market share. Notwithstanding adequate investment in new technology, our marketing and technology initiatives may not be successful in improving our comparable sales results. Additionally, we are in an environment where the technology life cycle is short and consumer technology demands are high, which requires continued reinvestment in technology which will increase the cost of doing business and will increase the risk that our technology may not be customer centric or could become obsolete, inefficient or otherwise incompatible with other systems.

 

We rely on our international franchisees to maintain their own point-of-sale and online ordering systems, which are often purchased from third-party vendors, potentially exposing international franchisees to more operational risk, including cyber and data privacy risks and governmental regulation compliance risks.

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Disruptions of our critical business or information technology systems could harm our ability to compete and conduct our business.

 

Our critical business and information technology systems could be damaged or interrupted by power loss, various technological failures, user errors, cyber-attacks sabotage or acts of God. In particular, the Company and our franchisees may experience occasional interruptions of our digital ordering solutions, which make online ordering unavailable or slow to respond, negatively impacting sales and the experience of our customers. If our digital ordering solutions do not perform with adequate speed and security, our customers may be less inclined to return to our digital ordering solutions.

 

Part of our technology infrastructure, such as our domestic FOCUS point-of-sale system, is specifically designed for us and our operational systems, which could cause unexpected costs, delays or inefficiencies when infrastructure upgrades are needed or prolonged and widespread technological difficulties occur. Significant portions of our technology infrastructure, particularly in our digital ordering solutions, are provided by third parties, and the performance of these systems is largely beyond our control. Failure of our third-party systems and backup systems to adequately perform, particularly as our online sales grow, could harm our business and the satisfaction of our customers. Such third-party systems could be disrupted either through system failure or if third party vendor patents and contractual agreements do not afford us protection against similar technology. In addition, we may not have or be able to obtain adequate protection or insurance to mitigate the risks of these events or compensate for losses related to these events, which could damage our business and reputation and be expensive and difficult to remedy or repair.

 

Failure to maintain the integrity of internal or customer data could result in damage to our reputation, loss of sales, and/or subject us to litigation, penalties or significant costs.

 

We are subject to a number of privacy and data protection laws and regulations. Our business requires the collection and retention of large volumes of internal and customer data, including credit card data and other personally identifiable information of our employees and customers housed in the various information systems we use. Constantly changing information security threats, particularly persistent cyber security threats, pose risks to the security of our systems and networks, and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data and the availability and integrity of our critical business functions.  As techniques used in cyber-attacks evolve, we may not be able to timely detect threats or anticipate and implement adequate security measures. The integrity and protection of the customer, employee, franchisee and Company data are critical to us. Our information technology systems and databases, and those provided by our third-party vendors, including international vendors, have been and will continue to be subject to computer viruses, malware attacks, unauthorized user attempts, phishing and denial of service and other malicious cyber-attacks. The failure to prevent fraud or security breaches or to adequately invest in data security could harm our business and revenues due to the reputational damage to our brand. Such a breach could also result in litigation, regulatory actions, penalties, and other significant costs to us and have a material adverse effect on our financial results. These costs could be significant and well in excess of our cyber insurance coverage.

 

We have been and will continue to be subject to various types of investigations and litigation, including collective and class action litigation, which could subject us to significant damages or other remedies.

 

We are subject to the risk of investigations and litigation from various parties, including vendors, customers, franchisees, state and federal agencies, stockholders and employees. From time to time, we are involved in a number of lawsuits, claims, investigations, and proceedings consisting of intellectual property, employment, consumer, personal injury, commercial and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business.

We have been subject to claims in cases containing collective and class action allegations. Plaintiffs in these types of lawsuits often seek recovery of very large or indeterminate amounts, and the magnitude of the potential loss and defense costs relating to such lawsuits may not be accurately estimated. Litigation trends involving the relationship between franchisors and franchisees, personal injury claims, employment law and intellectual property may increase our cost of doing business. We evaluate all of the claims and proceedings involving us to assess the expected outcome, and where possible, we estimate the amount of potential losses to us. In many cases, particularly collective and class action cases, we may not be able to estimate the amount of potential losses and/or our estimates may prove to be insufficient. These assessments are made by management based on the information available at the time made and require the use of a

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significant amount of judgment, and actual outcomes or losses may materially differ. Regardless of whether any claims against us are valid, or whether we are ultimately held liable, such litigation may be expensive to defend and may divert resources away from our operations and negatively impact earnings. Further, we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance to protect us from these types of litigation matters or extraordinary business losses.

 

We may be subject to harassment or discrimination claims and legal proceedings. Although our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct policies prohibit harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in sexual or in any other form, we have ongoing programs for workplace training and compliance, and we investigate and take disciplinary action with respect to alleged violations, actions by our team members could violate those policies. Franchisees and suppliers are also required to comply with all applicable laws and govern themselves with integrity.  Any violations (or perceptions  thereof) by our franchisees or suppliers could have a negative impact on consumer perceptions of us and our business and create reputational or other harm to the company.

 

We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights, which could negatively affect our results of operations.

 

We depend on the Papa John’s brand name and rely on a combination of trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and similar intellectual property rights to protect and promote our brand. We believe the success of our business depends on our continued ability to exclusively use our existing marks to increase brand awareness and further develop our brand, both domestically and abroad. We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights, and we may be required to pursue litigation to prevent consumer confusion and preserve our brand’s high-quality reputation. Litigation could result in high costs and diversion of resources, which could negatively affect our results of operations, regardless of the outcome.

 

We may be subject to impairment charges.

 

Impairment charges are possible due to the nature and timing of decisions we make about underperforming assets or markets, or if previously opened or acquired restaurants perform below our expectations. This could result in a decrease in our reported asset value and reduction in our net income.

 

The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union could have a negative impact on our business and financial results.

 

The outcome of the June 2016 referendum in the United Kingdom was a vote for the United Kingdom to cease to be a member of the European Union (known as “Brexit”).  This has resulted in a lower historical valuation of the British Pound in comparison to the U.S. Dollar and resulted in significant currency exchange rate fluctuations. While the future impact and other implications of Brexit on our operations in the European Union remain unclear, it has the potential to increase currency volatility, disrupt trade with changes in tariffs and regulations, impede the free movement of goods needed in our operations, and otherwise create global economic uncertainty and negatively impact consumer sentiment.

 

As of December 31, 2017, 29.6% of our total international restaurants are located in countries within the European Union.

 

We operate globally and changes in tax laws could adversely affect our results.

 

We operate globally and changes in tax laws could adversely affect our results. We have international operations and generate substantial revenues and profits in foreign jurisdictions. The domestic and international tax environments continue to evolve as a result of tax changes in various jurisdictions in which we operate. On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) was signed into law. The Tax Act changes existing United States tax law and includes numerous provisions that will affect businesses, including reducing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent effective January 1, 2018.  The Tax Act also introduces changes that will impact business-related exclusions, and deductions and credits.  As a result of the Tax Act, 2017 deferred tax assets and liabilities were remeasured.  This remeasurement yielded a one-time benefit of approximately $7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.  We are continuing to evaluate the impact of the Tax Act on our business and results of operations.  Many of the income tax effects of the Tax Act that we have accounted for in 2017 are based on reasonable estimates and are provisional.  See “Note 15” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.  The U.S. Treasury is expected to issue rules, regulations and guidance

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in connection with the Tax Act, which may alter interpretations of its provisions and change our preliminary analysis and conclusions. Any Treasury rules, regulations and guidance may materially impact the Company's operating results, including our effective tax rate, related provision for income taxes or amount of deferred tax assets and liabilities, and related valuation allowances.  We cannot currently predict the overall impact of the Tax Act on our business and results of operations. There could be unforeseen adverse tax consequences that arise as a result of the Tax Act.  In addition, further changes in the tax laws of foreign jurisdictions could arise. These contemplated changes could increase tax uncertainty and may adversely affect our provision for income taxes.

 

 

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

 

Item 2.  Properties

 

As of December 31, 2017, there were 5,199 Papa John’s restaurants system-wide. The following tables provide the locations of our restaurants. We define “North America” as the United States and Canada and “domestic” as the contiguous United States.

 

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North America Restaurants:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Company

    

Franchised

    

Total

 

Alabama

 

 3

 

81

 

84

 

Alaska

 

 —

 

11

 

11

 

Arizona

 

 —

 

79

 

79

 

Arkansas

 

 —

 

25

 

25

 

California

 

 —

 

205

 

205

 

Colorado

 

31

 

23

 

54

 

Connecticut

 

 —

 

 8

 

 8

 

Delaware

 

 —

 

17

 

17

 

District of Columbia

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Florida

 

64

 

230

 

294

 

Georgia

 

100

 

67

 

167

 

Hawaii

 

 —

 

14

 

14

 

Idaho

 

 —

 

14

 

14

 

Illinois

 

 8

 

94

 

102

 

Indiana

 

42

 

91

 

133

 

Iowa

 

 —

 

23

 

23

 

Kansas

 

16

 

18

 

34

 

Kentucky

 

46

 

67

 

113

 

Louisiana

 

 —

 

60

 

60

 

Maine

 

 —

 

 5

 

 5

 

Maryland

 

60

 

42

 

102

 

Massachusetts

 

 —

 

21

 

21

 

Michigan

 

 —

 

53

 

53

 

Minnesota

 

32

 

16

 

48

 

Mississippi

 

 —

 

30

 

30

 

Missouri

 

43

 

33

 

76

 

Montana

 

 —

 

 9

 

 9

 

Nebraska

 

 —

 

15

 

15

 

Nevada

 

 —

 

21

 

21

 

New Hampshire

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

New Jersey

 

 —

 

63

 

63

 

New Mexico

 

 —

 

18

 

18

 

New York

 

 —

 

91

 

91

 

North Carolina

 

102

 

85

 

187

 

North Dakota

 

 —

 

 8

 

 8

 

Ohio

 

 —

 

165

 

165

 

Oklahoma

 

 —

 

38

 

38

 

Oregon

 

 —

 

16

 

16

 

Pennsylvania

 

 —

 

94

 

94

 

Rhode Island

 

 —

 

 4

 

 4

 

South Carolina

 

 9

 

66

 

75

 

South Dakota

 

 —

 

13

 

13

 

Tennessee

 

32

 

80

 

112

 

Texas

 

94

 

208

 

302

 

Utah

 

 —

 

35

 

35

 

Vermont

 

 —

 

 1

 

 1

 

Virginia

 

26

 

122

 

148

 

Washington

 

 —

 

51

 

51

 

West Virginia

 

 —

 

22

 

22

 

Wisconsin

 

 —

 

31

 

31

 

Wyoming

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Total U.S. Papa John’s Restaurants

 

708

 

2,606

 

3,314

 

Canada

 

 —

 

127

 

127

 

Total North America Papa John’s Restaurants

 

708

 

2,733

 

3,441

 

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International Restaurants:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Company

    

Franchised

    

Total

 

Azerbaijan

    

 —

 

 4

    

 4

 

Bahrain

 

 —

 

22

 

22

 

Belarus

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Bolivia

 

 —

 

 4

 

 4

 

Cayman Islands

 

 —

 

 2

 

 2

 

Chile

 

 —

 

68

 

68

 

China

 

35

 

164

 

199

 

Colombia

 

 —

 

43

 

43

 

Costa Rica

 

 —

 

23

 

23

 

Cyprus

 

 —

 

 8

 

 8

 

Dominican Republic

 

 —

 

17

 

17

 

Ecuador

 

 —

 

17

 

17

 

Egypt

 

 —

 

45

 

45

 

El Salvador

 

 —

 

23

 

23

 

France

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

Guam

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

Guatemala

 

 —

 

12

 

12

 

Iraq

 

 —

 

 1

 

 1

 

Ireland

 

 —

 

72

 

72

 

Israel

 

 —

 

 2

 

 2

 

Jordan

 

 —

 

 9

 

 9

 

Korea

 

 —

 

130

 

130

 

Kuwait

 

 —

 

37

 

37

 

Mexico

 

 —

 

107

 

107

 

Morocco

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

Netherlands

 

 —

 

11

 

11

 

Nicaragua

 

 —

 

 4

 

 4

 

Oman

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Panama

 

 —

 

13

 

13

 

Peru

 

 —

 

38

 

38

 

Philippines

 

 —

 

18

 

18

 

Poland

 

 —

 

 1

 

 1

 

Puerto Rico

 

 —

 

27

 

27

 

Qatar

 

 —

 

21

 

21

 

Russia

 

 —

 

134

 

134

 

Saudi Arabia

 

 —

 

50

 

50

 

Spain

 

 —

 

41

 

41

 

Trinidad

 

 —

 

 7

 

 7

 

Tunisia

 

 —

 

 4

 

 4

 

Turkey

 

 —

 

47

 

47

 

United Arab Emirates

 

 —

 

45

 

45

 

United Kingdom

 

 —

 

384

 

384

 

Venezuela

 

 —

 

39

 

39

 

Total International Papa John’s Restaurants

 

35

 

1,723

 

1,758

 

 

Note: Company-owned Papa John’s restaurants include restaurants owned by majority-owned subsidiaries. There were 246 such restaurants at December 31, 2017 (31 in Colorado, 60 in Maryland, 32 in Minnesota, 94 in Texas, 26 in Virginia, and 3 in Georgia).

 

Most Papa John’s Company-owned restaurants are located in leased space. The initial term of most domestic restaurant leases is generally five years with most leases providing for one or more options to renew for at least one additional term. Generally, the leases are triple net leases, which require us to pay all or a portion of the cost of insurance, taxes and utilities.

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In connection with the 2016 sale of our Phoenix market, we also remain contingently liable for payment under 42 lease arrangements.

 

Nine of our 12 North America QC Centers are located in leased space.  Our remaining three locations are in buildings we own. Additionally, our corporate headquarters and our printing operations located in Louisville, KY are in buildings owned by us.

 

Our international leases include our Company-owned restaurant sites in Beijing and North China.  At December 31, 2017, we also leased and subleased to franchisees in the United Kingdom 316 of the 384 franchised Papa John’s restaurant sites. The initial lease terms on the franchised sites in the United Kingdom are generally 10 to 15 years. The initial lease terms of the franchisee subleases are generally five to ten years. We own a full-service QC Center in the United Kingdom and lease our QC Centers and office space in Beijing, China, and Mexico City, Mexico.

 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

 

The Company is involved in a number of lawsuits, claims, investigations and proceedings, consisting of intellectual property, employment, consumer, commercial and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. In accordance with Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 450, “Contingencies,” the Company has made accruals with respect to these matters, where appropriate, which are reflected in the Company’s consolidated financial statements. We review these provisions at least quarterly and adjust these provisions to reflect the impact of negotiations, settlements, rulings, advice of legal counsel and other information and events pertaining to a particular case.  See “Note 17” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures

 

None.

 

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EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

 

Set forth below are the current executive officers of Papa John’s:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

    

Age (a)

    

Position

    

First Elected
Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve M. Ritchie

 

43

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lance F. Tucker

 

  48

 

Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief

Administrative Officer

 

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael R. Nettles

 

51

 

Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer

 

2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timothy C. O’Hern

 

54

 

Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer

 

2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon P. Rhoten

 

38

 

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

 

2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caroline Miller Oyler

 

52

 

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

 

2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven R. Coke

 

39

 

Vice President of Investor Relations and Strategy

 

2018

 

 


(a)

Ages are as of January 1, 2018.

 

Steve M. Ritchie was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2018.  He served as President and Chief Operating Officer from July 2015 to December 31, 2017, after serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since May 2014. Mr. Ritchie has served as a Senior Vice President since May 2013 and in various capacities of increasing responsibility over Global Operations & Global Operations Support and Training since July 2010. Since 2006, he also has served as a franchise owner and operator of multiple units in the Company’s Midwest Division.

 

Lance F. Tucker was appointed Chief Administrative Officer in July 2012 and Chief Financial Officer in February 2011. Mr. Tucker previously held the positions of Treasurer from February 2011 to October 2017, Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning from June 2010 to February 2011, after serving as Chief of Staff and Vice President, Strategic Planning since June 2009. Mr. Tucker was previously employed by the Company from 1994 to 1999 working in its finance department. From 2003 to 2009, Mr. Tucker served as Chief Financial Officer of Evergreen Real Estate, a company owned by John Schnatter. Mr. Tucker is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.  It was announced on January 16, 2018 that Mr. Tucker is departing the Company effective March 2, 2018.

 

Michael R. Nettles was appointed Senior Vice President, Chief Information and Digital officer in February 2017.  Mr. Nettles joined Papa John’s after four years with Panera Bread serving as Vice President, Architecture and Information Technology Strategy.  Prior to Panera, Mr. Nettles served as Vice President of Tag Solutions for Goji Food Solutions from April 2011 until July of 2012 and concurrently as Founder and President of Red Chair Ventures, a foodservice technology solutions provider from January 2009 until July of 2012.

 

Timothy C. O’Hern was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer in July 2012. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Development since June 2009, a position he previously held from 2005 until 2007. From 2002 until 2005 and from 2007 until 2009, he managed the operations of a Papa John’s franchisee in which he has an ownership interest. Prior to his departure from Papa John’s in 2002, Mr. O’Hern held various positions, including Vice President of Global Development from February 2001 to 2002, Vice President of U.S. Development from March 1997 to

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February 2001, Director of Franchise Development from December 1996 to March 1997 and Construction Manager from November 1995 to December 1996. He has been a franchisee since 1993.

 

Brandon P. Rhoten was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer in August 2017.  Mr. Rhoten joined Papa John’s after six years with The Wendy’s Company, serving as Vice President, Marketing, Head of Advertising, Social Media, Media and Digital Marketing from 2015 through 2017; from 2013 through 2015, serving as Vice President, Head of Digital, Digital Marketing and Social Media; and from 2011 through 2013 serving as Director, Head of Digital Marketing and Social Media.

 

Caroline Miller Oyler was appointed Senior Vice President, General Counsel in May 2014, having served as Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs since November 2012 and previously as Vice President and Senior Counsel since joining the Company’s legal department in 1999.  She also served as interim head of Human Resources from December 2008 to September 2009.  Prior to joining Papa John’s, Ms. Oyler practiced law with the firm Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs LLP. 

 

On February 9, 2018, Steven R. Coke, 39, the Company’s Vice President of Investor Relations and Strategy, was appointed to the positions of principal financial and accounting officer of the Company on an interim basis, effective March 2, 2018, the previously announced date of departure of Lance Tucker, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer.  Mr.  Coke has served as Vice President, Strategic Planning since January 2015, after serving as Senior Director, Strategy since April 2012 and Senior Director, Restaurant Finance since June 2011.  He has served in various director and manager level positions with increasing responsibility in Finance since joining the company in May 1998.  Mr. Coke is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.

 

There are no family relationships between any of the directors or executive officers of the Company.

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PART II

 

Item 5.  Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Our common stock trades on The NASDAQ Global Select Market tier of The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol PZZA. As of February 20, 2018, there were 746 record holders of common stock. However, there are significantly more beneficial owners of our common stock than there are record holders. The following table sets forth, for the quarters indicated, the high and low sales prices of our common stock, as reported by The NASDAQ Stock Market, and dividends declared per common share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

Dividend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declared Per

 

2017

 

High

 

Low

 

Share

 

First Quarter

 

$

88.11

 

$

73.77

 

$

0.200

 

Second Quarter

 

 

85.20

 

 

73.63

 

 

0.200

 

Third Quarter

 

 

81.09

 

 

70.73

 

 

0.225

 

Fourth Quarter

 

 

75.07

 

 

55.05

 

 

0.225

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

Dividend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declared Per

 

2016

 

High

 

Low

 

Share

 

First Quarter

 

$

61.22

 

$

44.47

 

$

0.175

 

Second Quarter

 

 

67.99

 

 

53.23

 

 

0.175

 

Third Quarter

 

 

82.55

 

 

65.51

 

 

0.200

 

Fourth Quarter

 

 

90.49

 

 

73.60

 

 

0.200

 

 

 

Our Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.225 per share on January 31, 2018, that was payable on February 23, 2018, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 12, 2018.

 

We anticipate continuing the payment of quarterly cash dividends. The actual amount of such dividends is subject to declaration by our Board of Directors and will depend upon future earnings, results of operations, capital requirements, our financial condition and other relevant factors. There can be no assurance that the Company will continue to pay quarterly cash dividends.

 

Our Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $2.075 billion of common stock under a share repurchase program that began December 9, 1999, and expires February 27, 2019. In fiscal 2017, a total of 3.0 million shares with an aggregate cost of $209.6 million and an average price of $70.80 per share were repurchased under this program. Subsequent to year-end, we acquired an additional 546,000 shares at an aggregate cost of $32.7 million. Approximately $395.0 million remained available under the Company’s share repurchase program as of February 20, 2018.

 

The following table summarizes our repurchase activity by fiscal period during the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2017 (in thousands, except per share amounts):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

    

 

 

    

Total Number

    

Maximum Dollar

 

 

 

Total

 

Average

 

of Shares Purchased

 

Value of Shares

 

 

 

Number

 

Price

 

as Part of Publicly

 

that May Yet Be

 

 

 

of Shares

 

Paid per

 

Announced Plans

 

Purchased Under the

Fiscal Period

 

    

Purchased

    

Share

    

or Programs

    

Plans or Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/25/2017 - 10/22/2017

 

 

379

 

$

71.26

 

111,553

 

$

488,619

10/23/2017 - 11/19/2017

 

 

491

 

$

63.10

 

112,044

 

$

457,641

11/20/2017 - 12/31/2017

 

 

518

 

$

57.78

 

112,562

 

$

427,714

 

 

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The Company utilizes a written trading plan under Rule 10b5-1 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, from time to time to facilitate the repurchase of shares of our common stock under this share repurchase program. There can be no assurance that we will repurchase shares of our common stock either through a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan or otherwise.

 

Stock Performance Graph

 

The following performance graph compares the cumulative shareholder return of the Company’s common stock for the five-year period between December 30, 2012 and December 31, 2017 to (i) the NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.) Index and (ii) a group of the Company’s peers consisting of U.S. companies listed on NASDAQ with standard industry classification (SIC) codes 5800-5899 (eating and drinking places).  Management believes the companies included in this peer group appropriately reflect the scope of the Company’s operations and match the competitive market in which the Company operates. The graph assumes the value of the investments in the Company’s common stock and in each index was $100 on December 30, 2012, and that all dividends were reinvested.

 

Picture 1

 

 

 

 

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Item 6.  Selected Financial Data

 

The selected financial data presented for each of the fiscal years in the five-year period ended December 31, 2017, were derived from our audited consolidated financial statements. The selected financial data below should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the “Consolidated Financial Statements” and Notes thereto included in Item 7 and Item 8, respectively, of this Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended(1)

 

    

Dec. 31,

    

Dec. 25,

    

Dec. 27,

    

Dec. 30,

    

Dec. 25,

(In thousands, except per share data)

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

 

 

53 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

Income Statement Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales

 

$

816,718

 

$

815,931

 

$

756,307

 

$

701,854

 

$

635,317

North America franchise royalties and fees (2)

 

 

106,729

 

 

102,980

 

 

96,056

 

 

90,169

 

 

82,873

North America commissary and other sales

 

 

733,627

 

 

681,606

 

 

680,321

 

 

703,671

 

 

632,192

International (3)

 

 

126,285

 

 

113,103

 

 

104,691

 

 

102,455

 

 

88,640

Total revenues

 

 

1,783,359

 

 

1,713,620

 

 

1,637,375

 

 

1,598,149

 

 

1,439,022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refranchising and impairment gains/(losses), net

 

 

(1,674)

 

 

10,222

 

 

 —

 

 

(979)

 

 

 —

Operating income

 

 

151,017

 

 

164,523

 

 

136,307

 

 

117,630

 

 

106,503

Legal settlement

 

 

 —

 

 

898

 

 

(12,278)

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

Investment income

 

 

608

 

 

785

 

 

794

 

 

702

 

 

589

Interest expense

 

 

(11,283)

 

 

(7,397)

 

 

(5,676)

 

 

(4,077)

 

 

(983)

Income before income taxes

 

 

140,342

 

 

158,809

 

 

119,147

 

 

114,255

 

 

106,109

Income tax expense

 

 

33,817

 

 

49,717

 

 

37,183

 

 

36,558

 

 

33,130

Net income before attribution to noncontrolling interests

 

 

106,525

 

 

109,092

 

 

81,964

 

 

77,697

 

 

72,979

Income attributable to noncontrolling interests (4)

 

 

(4,233)

 

 

(6,272)

 

 

(6,282)

 

 

(4,382)

 

 

(3,442)

Net income attributable to the Company

 

$

102,292

 

$

102,820

 

$

75,682

 

$

73,315

 

$

69,537

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income attributable to common shareholders

 

$

103,288

 

$

102,967

 

$

75,422

 

$

72,869

 

$

68,497

Basic earnings per common share

 

$

2.86

 

$

2.76

 

$

1.91

 

$

1.78

 

$

1.58

Diluted earnings per common share

 

$

2.83

 

$

2.74

 

$

1.89

 

$

1.75

 

$

1.55

Basic weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

36,083

 

 

37,253

 

 

39,458

 

 

40,960

 

 

43,387

Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

36,522

 

 

37,608

 

 

40,000

 

 

41,718

 

 

44,243

Dividends declared per common share

 

$

0.85

 

$

0.75

 

$

0.63

 

$

0.53

 

$

0.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Sheet Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total assets

 

$

555,553

 

$

512,565

 

$

494,058

 

$

504,555

 

$

464,291

Total debt

 

 

470,000

 

 

300,575

 

 

256,000

 

 

230,451

 

 

157,900

Mandatorily redeemable noncontrolling interests (5)

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

10,786

Redeemable noncontrolling interests

 

 

6,738

 

 

8,461

 

 

8,363

 

 

8,555

 

 

7,024

Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)

 

 

(105,954)

 

 

9,801

 

 

42,206

 

 

98,715

 

 

138,184

 

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(1)

We operate on a 52-53 week fiscal year ending on the last Sunday of December of each year. The 2017 fiscal year consisted of 53 weeks and all other years above consisted of 52 weeks. The additional week resulted in additional revenues of approximately $30.9 million and additional income before income taxes of approximately $5.9 million, or $0.11 per diluted share for 2017.

(2)

North America franchise royalties were derived from franchised restaurant sales of $2.30 billion in 2017 ($2.25 billion on a 52 week basis), $2.20 billion in 2016, $2.13 billion in 2015, $2.04 billion in 2014 and $1.91 billion in 2013.

(3)

Includes international royalties and fees, restaurant sales for international Company-owned restaurants, and international commissary revenues.  International royalties were derived from franchised restaurant sales of $761.3 million in 2017 ($744.0 million on a 52 week basis), $648.9 million in 2016, $592.7 million in 2015, $553.0 million in 2014 and $460.0 million in 2013. Restaurant sales for international Company-owned restaurants were $13.7 million in 2017 ($13.4 million on a 52 week basis), $14.5 million in 2016, $19.3 million in 2015, $23.7 million in 2014 and $22.7 million in 2013.

(4)

Represents the noncontrolling interests’ allocation of income for our joint venture arrangements.

(5)

Represents the redemption value of a mandatorily redeemable noncontrolling interest. Upon removal of the redemption feature through a contractual amendment during 2014, the noncontrolling interest was reclassified from other long-term liabilities to stockholders’ equity in the consolidated balance sheet.

 

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Item 7.  Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations