SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual Report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended
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:
PAPA JOHN’S INTERNATIONAL, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive offices)
(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)
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.
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 ☐
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.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted 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 such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
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 has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes
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 28, 2020, was $
As of February 17, 2021, there were
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held April 27, 2021 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this annual report where indicated.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Item 1. Business
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 27, 2020, there were 5,400 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 588 Company-owned and 4,812 franchised restaurants operating in 48 countries and territories. Our Company-owned restaurants include 188 restaurants operated under four joint venture arrangements. All of the 2,111 international restaurants are franchised.
We are committed to delivering on our brand promise “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.®” and a business strategy designed to drive sustainable long-term, profitable growth.
We believe that using high quality ingredients leads to superior quality pizzas. Our original crust pizza dough is made from six simple ingredients and is fresh, never frozen. We also top our pizzas with real cheese made from mozzarella, pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes, and meat free of fillers. Our marketing and menu strategies emphasize the quality of our ingredients and our new product innovations to accelerate sales. Our menu innovations in 2020 included Garlic Parmesan Crust, toasted handheld “Papadias” flatbread-style sandwiches, and Jalapeno Popper Rolls, followed by Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza in the first quarter of 2021. New product innovations are designed to increase sales without adding costs or significant operational complexity to our restaurants.
We utilize technology to deliver a better customer experience, improve operational efficiencies and inform our decision-making. Our loyalty and one-to-one marketing platforms help us retain loyal customers and attract new ones. We also partner with three of the four top domestic delivery aggregators to meet customer demand for our products. The novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has accelerated customer demand for our products through alternate delivery channels, and these changes have enabled us to meet customer demand during the pandemic, especially during peak times when our delivery teams are working at full capacity.
We care about the health and safety of our team members and customers. The Company has taken steps to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing extra health and safety measures across our business, including No Contact Delivery and enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures. We offered virtual doctor’s visits for team members and paid special bonuses to many of our front-line employees in addition to existing benefits such as no-cost mental health support and affordable health plan options.
We continue to expand our footprint, both domestically and internationally. Our growth is dependent on maintaining a strong franchise system and improving unit economics. We seek to attract and retain 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 its own restaurants and business, we devote significant resources to providing franchisees with assistance in restaurant operations, quality assurance, technology, training, marketing, site selection and restaurant design. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted our ability to open stores, both domestically and internationally, but we have expended additional resources to drive our development efforts when the pandemic subsides. We expect overall unit growth to come increasingly from international markets.
Our success depends on our ability to recruit, motivate and retain a highly qualified workforce in an intensely competitive environment. We believe that increasing diversity in our workforce will also help us drive innovation that reflects and resonates with the increasing diversity of our customers domestically and globally.
Papa John’s has defined four reportable segments: Domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America commissaries (Quality Control Centers), North America franchising and International operations.
Domestic Company-owned Restaurants
The Domestic Company-owned restaurant segment consists of the operations of all domestic Company-owned restaurants (“domestic” is defined as the contiguous United States) and derives its revenues principally from retail sales of pizza, “Papadias”, which are flatbread-style sandwiches, and side items, including breadsticks, cheesesticks, chicken poppers and wings, dessert items and canned or bottled beverages.
Of the total 3,289 North American restaurants open as of December 27, 2020, 588 units, or approximately 18%, were Company-owned. In 2020, the 579 domestic Company-owned restaurants included in the full year’s comparable restaurant base generated average annual unit sales of $1.2 million. We are committed to maintaining sound restaurant unit economics.
Operating Company-owned restaurants allows us to improve operations, training, marketing and quality standards for the benefit of the entire system.
North America commissary
The North America commissary segment comprises 11 full-service regional dough production and distribution Quality Control Centers (“QC Centers”) in the United States (“U.S.”), which supply pizza sauce, dough, food products, paper products, smallwares and cleaning supplies twice weekly to each traditional restaurant served. This system enables us to monitor and control product quality and consistency while lowering food and other costs. We also have one QC Center in Canada, which produces and distributes fresh dough. 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. 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.
North America franchising
The North America franchising segment consists of our franchise sales and support activities and derives its revenues from the sale of franchise and development rights and the collection of royalties from our franchisees located in the United States and Canada. Our North American franchised restaurants, which included 2,377 restaurants in the full year’s comparable base for 2020, generated average annual unit sales of $1.0 million. These sales, while not included in the Company’s revenues, contribute to our royalty revenues, franchisee marketing fund contributions, and commissary revenue.
The International segment principally consists of distribution sales to franchised Papa John’s restaurants located in the United Kingdom (“UK”) and our franchise sales and support activities, which derive revenues from sales of franchise and development rights and the collection of royalties from our international franchisees. International franchisees are defined as all franchise operations outside of the United States and Canada. As of December 27, 2020, there were 2,111 international restaurants, all of which are franchised. The Company currently operates one international QC Center, which is in the UK. Other QC Centers outside the U.S. are operated by franchisees pursuant to license agreements or by other third parties.
All other business units that do not meet the quantitative thresholds for determining reportable segments, which are not operating segments, we refer to as “all others,” which consists of operations that derive revenues from the sale, principally
to Company-owned and franchised restaurants, of printing and promotional items, franchise contributions to marketing funds and information systems and related services used in restaurant operations, including our point-of-sale system, online and other technology-based ordering platforms.
See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Note 23” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for financial information about our segments.
At December 27, 2020, there were 5,400 Papa John’s restaurants operating in 48 countries and territories, as follows:
Franchised North America
Total North America
Beginning - December 29, 2019
Ending - December 27, 2020
Net unit growth (decline) - 2020
Although most of our domestic Company-owned markets are well-penetrated, our Company-owned restaurant 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 scale 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 use market co-development in the future, where appropriate.
As of December 27, 2020, we have development agreements with our franchisees for approximately 210 additional North America restaurants, the majority of which are committed to open over the next two years, and 1,250 additional international franchised restaurants, the majority of which are scheduled to open over the next six years.
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 fundamental to the performance of our brand and we strive to maintain a collaborative relationship with our franchisees. Franchisees are approved on the basis of the applicant’s business background, restaurant operating experience and financial resources.
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. The franchise agreement is generally executed once a franchisee secures a location. Our current standard 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% contractual royalty rate in effect. Incentives offered from time to time, including new store incentives, will reduce the contractual royalty rate paid. We provided financial assistance for traditional North America franchisees in 2018, 2019 and 2020 in the form of lower royalties, royalty-based service incentives, targeted relief as well as additional contributions to Papa John’s Marketing Fund (“PJMF”).
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 2020 traditional openings: (1) waiver of all or part of the standard one-time franchise fee; (2) waiver of all or part of the 5% royalty fee for a period of time; (3) credit for new store equipment; and (4) credit to be applied toward a future food purchase, under certain circumstances. We believe development incentive programs have accelerated unit openings, and we expect to continue to utilize such development incentives.
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.
International Development and Franchise Agreements. 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.
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. 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.
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 generally have the authority to set maximum price points for nationally advertised promotions.
Franchisee Loans. Selected domestic and international franchisees have borrowed funds from us, principally for the purchase of restaurants from us or other franchisees or, in certain international markets, 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 27, 2020, net loans outstanding totaled $47.9 million. See “Note 2” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
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 customer use of online and mobile technology. Local advertising programs include television, radio, print, direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital, mobile marketing and local social media channels.
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 restaurant-level and Co-op marketing efforts are supported by media, print, digital and electronic advertising materials that are produced by PJMF, our national marketing fund. PJMF is a consolidated 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 and advertises the Company’s products through digital media including banner advertising, paid search-engine advertising, mobile marketing, social media advertising and marketing, text messaging, and email. PJMF 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.
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.
Our team members are critical to our success. As of December 27, 2020, we employed approximately 16,700 persons, of whom approximately 14,200 were team members at Company-owned restaurants, approximately 700 were management personnel at Company-owned restaurants, approximately 700 were corporate personnel and approximately 1,100 were QC Center and our print and promotions subsidiary personnel. Most restaurant team members work part-time and are paid on an hourly basis.
Our franchisees are independent business owners, so their employees are not our employees and therefore are not included in our employee count. We estimate the total number of persons in Papa John’s system, including our team members, franchisees and the team members of franchisees, was approximately 130,000 as of December 27, 2020.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is rooted in our belief that having a Papa John's family that fully reflects and celebrates the global nature of our brand is the right way to do business.
We are building a culture of leaders who believe in inclusivity, diversity and winning. We’re implementing initiatives to diversify our workforce and leadership pipeline, embed policies and practices that ensure fairness and instill and reward behaviors across the organization that foster belonging and increase employee engagement. Out of the 11 members of our Executive Leadership Team, four are female, one is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer or Questioning (“LGBTQ”) and two are Black. We have also initiated multiple corporate initiatives over the past several years. Some examples are our affordable healthcare plans and free virtual healthcare visits available to all part-time and full-time team members; the launch of The Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community; our inaugural Day of Service with Boys and Girls Clubs of America; and the creation of eight employee resource affinity groups.
Talent Attraction, Retention and Development
To help our team members succeed in their roles and to ensure consistent operational execution, we emphasize continuous training and development opportunities, including providing innovative tools and materials for the operational training and development of team members. 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. In addition, to further support our team members’ development, we have established our Dough & Degrees program, which allows our team members to earn a college degree for free or at a reduced tuition in partnership with Purdue University Global and the University of Maryland Global Campus. We also offer a tuition reimbursement program that provides another opportunity for our team members to advance their careers. We also previously announced the planned 2021 opening of an office in Atlanta, Georgia to tap into the diverse, deep talent pool in the region.
Workplace Health and Safety
As part of the Company’s enterprise-wide safety management system, we invest in training, technology and people to protect both our customers and team members. All Papa John’s team members, from those at our corporate office to those working in our warehouses and restaurants, receive annual safety training based on the requirements of their roles. Both QC Centers and restaurant operations undergo annual safety audits, as well as random safety checks by regional safety managers and field safety coordinators.
We have also taken steps to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our team members and our customers by implementing extra health and safety measures across our business, including No Contact Delivery and enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures.
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, customer loyalty programs and product innovation. The QSR Pizza 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 longer periods than Papa John’s, have substantially greater resources than Papa John’s and can have higher levels of restaurant penetration and stronger, more developed brand awareness in markets where we compete. Competition from delivery aggregators and other food delivery concepts continues to increase both domestically and internationally.
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.
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 our marketing and advertising as well as the preparation and sale of food, 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, taxation, 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. We are also subject to applicable laws in each non-U.S. jurisdiction in which we operate.
Privacy and Data Protection
Trademarks, Copyrights and Domain Names
We protect our intellectual property through a combination of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, foreign intellectual property laws, confidentiality agreements and other contractual provisions. We have also registered, and applied for the registration of, U.S. and international trademarks, service marks, domain names and copyrights. 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 country code domains patterned as papajohns.cc, or a close variation thereof, with “.cc” representing a specific country code.
Impact of COVID-19
Please refer to “Recent Business Matters” within “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for a discussion of recent business developments, including the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our business and results of operations and financial condition.
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. These reports include 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. These reports 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. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, including us, 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.
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. 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.
We are subject to risks related to pandemic outbreaks, including COVID-19, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to risks related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has had, and is expected to continue to have, significant adverse impacts on economic and market conditions. In response to the pandemic, governments and other authorities around the world have imposed measures to attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, including restrictions on freedom of movement and business operations such as travel bans, social distancing requirements, including limitations on gatherings, shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, and mandated business closures, which have resulted in significant changes in commercial activity and consumer behavior. We cannot predict when the effects of the pandemic will subside, how long there will be continuing resurgences or mutations of the virus or the effectiveness of vaccines and treatment
therapies or the speed of vaccine distribution. To the extent that the COVID-19 pandemic continues or worsens, restrictions imposed by governments may not be lifted, or additional restrictions may be imposed. As a result, businesses such as our restaurants or QC Centers may be required to shut down, our employees may be prohibited from working, and our supply chains may be interrupted. It may be challenging to obtain and process ingredients and raw materials to support our business needs. In addition, individuals have and may continue to become ill, quarantined or otherwise unable to work and/or travel due to health reasons or governmental restrictions. Also, governments may impose other laws, regulations or taxes which could adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. Further, if our customers’ economic conditions are similarly affected, they might delay or reduce purchases from us, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The potential adverse effects of COVID-19 also could include, but may not be limited to, our ability to meet consumer demand through the continued availability of our workforce; adverse impacts from new laws and regulations affecting our business; increased cyber risks and reliance on technology infrastructure to support our business and operations, including through remote-work protocols; fluctuations in foreign currency markets credit risks of our customers and counterparties; and impairment of long-lived assets, the carrying value of goodwill or other indefinite-lived intangible assets. However, given the evolving health, economic, social, and governmental environments, the specific impact that COVID-19 could have on these risks remains uncertain.
Moreover, during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced a significant increase in comparable sales and revenues. The circumstances that have contributed to the acceleration of the growth of our business stemming from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may not continue in the future once the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic tapers, particularly as a vaccine becomes widely available, and customers are no longer subject to shelter-in-place or social distancing mandates. We expect the growth rates in comparable sales and revenues to slow or decline.
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 competitors, we face competition from new competitors such as fast casual pizza concepts. We also face competitive pressures from an array of food delivery concepts and aggregators delivering for quick service or dine in restaurants, using new delivery technologies or delivering for competitors who previously did not have delivery capabilities, 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 also face increasing competition from 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, we could have lower profit margins than some of our competitors if we are not able to establish a quality differentiator that resonates with consumers. Our sales may be particularly impacted as competitors increasingly emphasize lower-cost menu options.
Changes in consumer preferences or discretionary consumer spending could adversely impact our results.
Changes in consumer preferences and trends could negatively affect us (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 healthier, lower-calorie, or lower in carbohydrates or otherwise based on their ingredients or nutritional content). Preferences for a dining experience such as fast casual pizza concepts could also 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 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 (both 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 certain U.S. surveys, and we strive to build the value of our brand as we develop international markets.
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 corporate culture, our policies and systems related to diversity, equity and inclusion, 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, including former employees and executives, presenting or promoting adverse commentary or portrayals of our industry, our brand, our suppliers or our franchisees, or otherwise making statements, disclosing information or taking actions that could damage our reputation. 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 negative information via social media could harm our business, brand, reputation, marketing partners, financial condition, and results of operations, regardless of the information’s accuracy.
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.
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. 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, higher levels of required financial support from us, higher numbers of restaurant closures, reduced numbers of restaurant openings, delayed or reduced payments to us, or increased franchisee assistance, which reduces our revenues.
Our success also increasingly depends on the willingness and ability of our franchisees to remain aligned with us on operating, promotional and marketing plans. Franchisees’ ability to continue to grow is also dependent in large part on the availability of franchisee 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.
We may be adversely impacted by increases in the cost of food ingredients and other costs.
We are exposed to fluctuations in prices of 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. Many 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 we face.
Changes in privacy or data protection 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 domestic 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.
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 restaurants’ results, which are completely 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 standards, or to effectively sub-franchise restaurants, could result in brand damage, a higher number of restaurant closures and a reduction in the number of new restaurant openings.
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.
We are subject to risks and uncertainties associated with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (referred to as “Brexit”), including implications for the free flow of labor and goods in the United Kingdom and the European Union and other financial, legal, tax and trade implications.
Adverse global economic conditions subject us to additional risk.
Our financial condition and results of operations are impacted by global markets and economic conditions over which neither we nor our franchisees have control. An economic downturn, including deterioration in the economic conditions in the U.S. or international markets where we compete, may result in a reduction in the demand for our products, longer payment cycles, slower adoption of new technologies and increased price competition.
Poor economic conditions may adversely affect the ability of our franchisees to pay royalties or amounts owed and could also disrupt our business and adversely affect our results.
Higher labor costs and increased competition for qualified team members increase the cost of doing business and ensuring adequate staffing in our restaurants and QC Centers. 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, train 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, and may in the future have, a negative impact on our Company-owned restaurant margins and the margins of franchised restaurants. Competition for qualified drivers for both our restaurants and supply-chain function also continues to increase as more companies compete for drivers or enter the delivery space, including third party aggregators. Additionally, economic actions, 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. Social media may be used to foster negative perceptions of employment with our Company in particular or in our industry generally, and to 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 and employee related litigation. 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.
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. A significant increase in the federal minimum wage requirement could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.
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. We plan to continue to invest in enhancing and improving the functionality and features of our information technology systems. However, we cannot ensure that our initiatives will be beneficial to the extent, or within the timeframes, expected or that the estimated improvements will be realized as anticipated or at all. 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 that 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.
Our reorganization activities will increase our expenses, may not be successful, and may adversely impact employee hiring and retention.
On September 17, 2020, we announced plans to open an office in Atlanta, Georgia. As a result, we have incurred and will incur certain non-recurring corporate reorganization costs in 2020 and 2021, and these expenses have impacted and will adversely impact our results of operations during the relevant periods and will reduce our cash position. Additionally, the amount of these estimated expenses, as well as our ability to achieve the anticipated benefits of our corporate reorganization, are subject to assumptions and uncertainties. If we do not realize the anticipated benefits from these measures, or if we incur costs greater than anticipated, our financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.
In addition, turnover in our corporate office support teams due to certain functions relocating to our office in Georgia could distract our employees, decrease employee morale, harm our reputation, and negatively impact the overall performance of our corporate support teams. As a result of these or other similar risks, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.
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 we experienced lower sales that would result in reduced levels of marketing funds. We may be required to expend additional funds to effectively improve consumer sentiment and sales, and we may also be required to engage in additional activities to retain customers or attract new
customers to the brand. Such marketing expenses and promotional activities, which could include discounting our products, could adversely impact our results.
Persons or marketing partners who endorse our products could take actions that harm their reputations, which 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.
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, regulatory and competitive conditions and consumer buying habits. A decrease in sales, such as what we experienced in 2018 and the first half of 2019, 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. Declines in comparable sales, net store openings and related operating profits can impact our stock price. If we do not continue to improve future sales and operating results and meet our related growth targets or external expectations for net restaurant openings or our other strategic objectives in the future, 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 creditworthiness, 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.
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 mozzarella 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 mozzarella cheese domestically and substantially all of our mozzarella cheese internationally. We also depend on a sole source for our supply of certain desserts and garlic sauce, which constitute 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 mozzarella 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 supply chain interruptions including those caused by factors beyond our control or the control of our suppliers. Prolonged disruption in the supply of products from or to our QC Centers due to weather, climate change, natural disasters, COVID-19, crop disease, food safety incidents, regulatory compliance, labor dispute or interruption of service by carriers could increase costs, limit the availability of ingredients critical to our restaurant operations and have a significant impact on results. 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.
We rely on third parties for certain business processes and services, and failure or inability of such third-party vendors to perform subjects us to risks, including business disruption and increased costs.
We depend on the performance of suppliers and other third parties in our business operations. Third-party business processes we utilize include information technology, gift card authorization and processing, other payment processing, benefits, and other accounting and business services. We conduct third-party due diligence and seek to obtain contractual assurance that our vendors will maintain adequate controls, such as adequate security against data breaches. However, the failure of our suppliers to maintain adequate controls or comply with our expectations and standards could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and operating results.
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 automobiles, general liability, property, and health insurance coverage provided to our employees are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels under our retention programs. Retention limits generally range from $1,000 to $1.0 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 claims volatility and high costs for our insurance programs. 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.
We are subject to debt covenant restrictions.
Our credit agreement contains affirmative and negative covenants, including financial covenants. If a covenant violation occurs or is expected to occur, we would be required to seek a waiver or amendment from the lenders under the credit agreement. The failure to obtain a waiver or amendment on a timely basis would result in our inability to borrow additional funds or obtain letters of credit under our credit agreement and allow the lenders under our credit agreement to declare our loan obligations due and payable, require us to cash collateralize outstanding letters of credit or increase our interest rate. If any of the foregoing events occur, we would need to refinance our debt, or renegotiate or restructure, the terms of the credit agreement.
With our 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.
Current debt levels under our existing credit facility may reduce 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 significant portion of our variable interest rate risk. However, 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.
In addition, the loans under our credit facility accrue interest at a per annum rate that may include, at the Company’s election, a spread over the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). In July 2017, the head of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (the authority that regulates LIBOR) announced its intention to phase out the use of LIBOR by the end of 2021. However, the Intercontinental Exchange Benchmark Administration, in its capacity as administrator of USD LIBOR, has announced that it intends to extend publication of USD LIBOR (other than one-week and two-month tenors) by 18 months to June 2023. Notwithstanding this possible extension, a joint statement by key regulatory authorities calls on banks to cease entering into new contracts that use USD LIBOR as a reference rate by no later than December 31, 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is considering replacing U.S.-dollar LIBOR with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate ("SOFR"), a new index calculated by short-term repurchase agreements, backed by Treasury securities. Although SOFR appears to be the preferred replacement rate for U.S. dollar LIBOR, at this time, it is not possible to definitively predict the effect of any changes to LIBOR, any phase out of LIBOR or any establishment of alternative benchmark rates, including SOFR. The cessation of LIBOR will require us to amend the terms of our credit facility or any future credit agreements extending beyond June 2023 and indexed to LIBOR to replace LIBOR with SOFR or such other standard that is established, which could have a material adverse effect on us, including on our cost of funds, access to capital markets and financial results.
Our Board of Directors has adopted a limited duration stockholder rights agreement, which could delay or discourage a merger, tender offer, or assumption of control of the Company not approved by our Board of Directors.
On April 30, 2019, the Company’s stockholders ratified the adoption by the Board of Directors of the Rights Agreement, dated as of July 22, 2018, as amended on February 3, 2019, March 6, 2019, and October 23, 2019 (as amended, the “Rights Agreement”). The original Rights Agreement adopted by the Board of Directors on July 22, 2018 had an expiration date of July 22, 2019 and a beneficial ownership trigger threshold of 15%. On February 3, 2019, in connection with the sale and issuance of shares of the Company’s Series B Convertible Preferred Stock (“Series B Preferred Stock”) to certain funds affiliated with, or managed by, Starboard Value LP (collectively, “Starboard”), the original Rights Agreement was amended to exempt Starboard from being considered an “Acquiring Person” under the Rights Agreement solely as a result of its beneficial ownership of (i) shares of common stock beneficially owned by Starboard prior to the sale and issuance of the Series B Preferred Stock, (ii) shares of Series B Preferred Stock issued or issuable to Starboard under the terms of the Securities Purchase Agreement, dated February 3, 2019, with Starboard (the “Securities Purchase Agreement”), and (iii) shares of the common stock (or in certain circumstances certain series of preferred stock) issuable upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock (or certain series of preferred stock issuable on conversion thereof) pursuant to the terms of the Certificate of Designation of Series B Preferred Stock. On March 6, 2019, the Rights Agreement was further amended to extend the term of the Rights Agreement to March 6, 2022, increase the beneficial ownership trigger threshold at which a person becomes an acquiring person from 15% to 20%, except for a “grandfathered person” provision, and make certain other changes. The Rights Agreement was further amended on October 23, 2019 to eliminate the “grandfathered person” provision as there are no stockholders that currently beneficially own 20% or more of the Company’s common stock.
The Rights Agreement is intended to enable all of our stockholders to realize the full potential value of their investment in the Company and to protect the interests of the Company and its stockholders by reducing the likelihood that any person or group gains control of the Company through open market accumulation or other tactics without paying an appropriate control premium. The Rights Agreement could render more difficult, or discourage, a merger, tender offer, or assumption of control of the Company that is not approved by our Board of Directors. The Rights Agreement, however, should not interfere with any merger, tender or exchange offer or other business combination approved by our Board of Directors. In addition, the Rights Agreement does not prevent our Board of Directors from considering any offer that it considers to be in the best interest of the Company’s stockholders.
The issuance of shares of our Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard and its permitted transferees dilutes the ownership and relative voting power of holders of our common stock and may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Pursuant to the Securities Purchase Agreement, the Company sold 250,000 shares of our newly designated Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard in 2019.
As of December 27, 2020, the shares held by Starboard represent 13.3% of our outstanding common stock on an as-converted basis. The Series B Preferred Stock is convertible at the option of the holders at any time into shares of common stock based on the conversion rate determined by dividing $1,000, the stated value of the Series B Preferred Stock, by $50.06.
Because holders of our Series B Preferred Stock are entitled to vote, on an as-converted basis, together with holders of our common stock on all matters submitted to a vote of the holders of our common stock, the issuance of the Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard effectively reduces the relative voting power of the holders of our common stock.
In addition, the conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock into common stock would dilute the ownership interest of existing holders of our common stock. Furthermore, any sales in the public market of the common stock issuable upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock. Pursuant to a customary registration rights agreement with Starboard, we have registered for resale under the Securities Act of 1933 the shares of Series B Preferred Stock and any shares of common stock issued upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock. This registration may facilitate the resale of such securities into the public market, and any such resale would increase the number of shares of our common stock available for public trading. Sales by Starboard of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales might occur, could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock.
Our Series B Preferred Stock has rights, preferences and privileges that are not held by, and are preferential to, the rights of, our common stockholders, which could adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition, result in the interests of holders of our Series B Preferred Stock differing from those of our common stockholders and delay or prevent an attempt to take over the Company.
Starboard and the other holders of our Series B Preferred Stock have a liquidation preference entitling them to be paid, before any payment may be made to holders of our common stock in connection with a liquidation event, an amount per share of Series B Preferred Stock equal to the greater of (i) the stated value thereof plus accrued and unpaid dividends and (ii) the amount that would have been received had such share of Series B Preferred Stock been converted into common stock immediately prior to such liquidation event.
Holders of Series B Preferred Stock are entitled to a preferential cumulative dividend at the rate of 3.6% per annum, payable quarterly in arrears. On the third anniversary of the date of issuance, each holder of Series B Preferred Stock will have the right to increase the dividend on the shares of Series B Preferred Stock held by such holder to 5.6%, and on the fifth anniversary of the date of issuance, each holder will have the right to increase the dividend on the shares of Series B Preferred Stock held by such holder to 7.6% (in each case subject to the Company’s right to redeem some or all of such shares of Series B Preferred Stock for cash).
The holders of our Series B Preferred Stock also have certain redemption rights or put rights, including the right on any date following November 6, 2026 to require us to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock. Holders of the Series B Preferred Stock also have the right, subject to certain exceptions, to require us to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock upon certain change of control events.
These dividend and share repurchase obligations could impact our liquidity and reduce the amount of cash flows available for working capital, capital expenditures, growth opportunities, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes. Our obligations to Starboard, as the initial holder of our Series B Preferred Stock, could also limit our ability to obtain additional financing or increase our borrowing costs, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition. The preferential rights could also result in divergent interests between Starboard and holders of our common stock. Furthermore, a sale of our Company, as a change of control event, may require us to repurchase Series B Preferred Stock, which could have the
effect of making an acquisition of the Company more expensive and potentially deterring proposed transactions that may otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.
Starboard may exercise influence over us, including through its ability to designate up to two members of our Board of Directors.
The transaction documents entered into in connection with the sale of the Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard grant to Starboard consent rights with respect to certain actions by us, including:
|●||amending our organizational documents in a manner that would have an adverse effect on the Series B Preferred Stock;|
|●||issuing securities that are senior to, or equal in priority with, the Series B Preferred Stock; and|
|●||increasing the maximum number of directors on our Board to more than eleven persons or twelve persons, subject to the terms of the Governance Agreement (the “Governance Agreement”) entered into in connection with the Securities Purchase Agreement.|
The Securities Purchase Agreement also imposes a number of affirmative and negative covenants on us. As a result, Starboard has the ability to influence the outcome of matters submitted for the vote of the holders of our common stock. Starboard and its affiliates are in the business of making or advising on investments in companies, including businesses that may directly or indirectly compete with certain portions of our business, and they may have interests that diverge from, or even conflict with, those of our other stockholders. They may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us.
In addition, the terms of the Governance Agreement grant Starboard certain rights to designate directors to be nominated for election by holders of our common stock. For so long as certain criteria set forth in the Governance Agreement are satisfied, including that Starboard beneficially own, in the aggregate, at least (i) 89,264 shares of Series B Preferred Stock or (ii) the lesser of 5.0% of the Company’s then-outstanding common stock (on an as-converted basis, if applicable) and 1,783,141 shares of issued and outstanding common stock (subject to adjustment for stock splits, reclassifications, combinations and similar adjustments), Starboard has the right to designate two directors for election to our Board, consisting of one nominee who is affiliated with Starboard and one independent nominee.
The directors designated by Starboard also are entitled to serve on committees of our Board, subject to applicable law and stock exchange rules. Notwithstanding the fact that all directors will be subject to fiduciary duties to us and to applicable law, the interests of the directors designated by Starboard may differ from the interests of our security holders as a whole or of our other directors.
We may not be able to raise the funds necessary to finance a required repurchase of our Series B Preferred Stock.
After November 6, 2026, each holder of Series B Preferred Stock will have the right, upon 90 days’ notice, to require the Company to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock for cash at a price equal to $1,000 per share of Series B Preferred Stock plus all accrued but unpaid dividends. In addition, upon certain change of control events, holders of Series B Preferred Stock can require us, subject to certain exceptions, to repurchase any or all of their Series B Preferred Stock.
It is possible that we would not have sufficient funds to make any required repurchase of Series B Preferred Stock. Moreover, we may not be able to arrange financing to pay the repurchase price.
Natural disasters, hostilities, social unrest, severe weather and other catastrophic events may disrupt our operations or supply chain.
The occurrence of a natural disaster, hostilities, cyber-attack, social unrest, terrorist activity, outbreak of epidemic, pandemic or contagious disease, power outages, severe weather (such as tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, floods, heat waves, etc.) or other catastrophic events may disrupt our operations or supply chain and result in the closure of our restaurants (Company-owned or franchised), our corporate offices, 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.
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”) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) which 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.
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 have in the past, and could in the future 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 have experienced 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 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. Occasionally, we have experienced or could experience temporary disruptions in our business due to third-party systems failing to adequately perform. Failure to manage future failures of these systems, 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. We collect and retain 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, or not covered by, 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 securities, antitrust, intellectual property, employment, consumer, personal injury, corporate governance, 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 personal injury, employment law, intellectual property and the relationship between franchisors and franchisees 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 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. Our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct policies prohibit harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in sexual or in any other form. To monitor and enforce these policies, we have ongoing programs for workplace training and compliance, and we investigate and take disciplinary action with respect to alleged violations. Nevertheless, 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.
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 and changes in the tax laws in certain countries, including the United States, could impact our future operating results. A significant increase in the U.S. corporate tax rate could negatively impact our financial results.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
As of December 27, 2020, there were 5,400 Papa John’s restaurants worldwide. 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.
North America Restaurants:
District of Columbia
Total U.S. Papa John’s Restaurants
Total North America Papa John’s Restaurants
|(1)||Company-owned Papa John’s restaurants include restaurants owned by majority-owned subsidiaries. There were 188 such restaurants at December 27, 2020 (60 in Maryland, 90 in Texas, 26 in Virginia, and 12 in Georgia).|
United Arab Emirates
Total International Papa John’s Restaurants (1)
|(1)||Of the Company’s 2,111 international franchised restaurants, approximately 65 stores were temporarily closed as of December 27, 2020, principally in Latin America and Europe, in accordance with government policies as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.|
Most Papa John’s Company-owned restaurants are located in leased space. The initial term of most domestic restaurant leases is 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. As a result of assigning our interest in obligations under property leases as a condition of the refranchising of certain restaurants, we are also contingently liable for payment of approximately 80 domestic leases.
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 office and our printing operations located in Louisville, KY are in buildings owned by us.
On September 17, 2020, we announced plans to open an office in Atlanta, Georgia which will be in a leased space. Certain corporate functions, including menu innovation, marketing, digital customer experience, human resources, diversity, equity and inclusion, communications, operations, development, financial planning and analysis and investor relations will be relocated to the Atlanta office. Our information technology, finance, supply chain, and legal teams will continue to operate in our Louisville, Kentucky office, which remains critical to our success. We also maintain a Company-owned office outside of London, United Kingdom (“UK”), where our international operations are managed. For additional information, see “Note 17” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements”.
At December 27, 2020, we leased and subleased approximately 385 Papa John’s restaurant sites to franchisees in the UK. The initial lease terms on the franchised sites in the United Kingdom are generally 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 UK. See “Note 3” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
The information contained in “Note 20, Litigation, Commitments and Contingencies” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” is incorporated by reference herein.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Information about our Executive Officers
Set forth below are the current executive officers of Papa John’s:
Robert M. Lynch
President and Chief Executive Officer
Ann B. Gugino
Chief Financial Officer
Chief People and Diversity Officer
Chief Development Officer
James A. Norberg
Chief Operating Officer, North America
Caroline M. Oyler
Chief Legal and Risk Officer
Jack H. Swaysland
Chief Operating Officer, International
C. Max Wetzel
Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer
(a) Ages are as of January 1, 2021
Robert M. Lynch was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer in August 2019. Mr. Lynch joined Papa John’s after serving as President of Arby’s Restaurant Group since August 2017, and served as Brand President and Chief Marketing Officer from August 2013 to August 2017. Prior to Arby’s, he served as Vice President of Marketing at Taco Bell. Mr. Lynch has more than 20 years combined experience in the QSR and consumer packaged goods industries, and also held senior roles at HJ Heinz Company and Procter & Gamble.
Ann B. Gugino was appointed to Chief Financial Officer in October 2020. Ms. Gugino joins Papa John’s from Target Corporation where she served as Senior Vice President, Financing Planning and Analysis since 2018, providing overall strategy, guidance, and direction in the development and execution of Target’s planning, analysis and capital investment portfolios. Prior to Target, Ms. Gugino spent 18 years at Patterson Companies Inc., including four years as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
Marvin Boakye was appointed Chief People and Diversity Officer in November 2019 after previously serving as Papa John’s first Chief People Officer since January 2019. Mr. Boakye joined Papa John’s after serving as Vice President of Human Resources at petroleum company Andeavor, in Texas where he also led diversity, equity and inclusion. Prior to Andeavor, he was Chief Human Resources Officer for MTS Allstream, a telecommunications company now part of Bell Canada from June 2015 to March 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Boakye held senior human resources positions for organizations across the United States, Canada and Latin America, including at Goodyear, the Pulte Group and The Home Depot.
Amanda Clark was appointed as Chief Development Officer in February 2020. Ms. Clark joins Papa John’s from Taco Bell, where she was responsible for design, consumer facing technology, merchandising, customer marketing, new concepts and company development, serving as Executive Vice President Restaurant Experience from February 2019 to February 2020, Senior Vice President North America Development from May 2017 to February 2019 and the General Manager for Taco Bell Canada from November 2015 to August 2018. Previously, Ms. Clark served in roles of increasing responsibility in Brand Marketing at Taco Bell since 2013. Prior to joining Taco Bell, Ms. Clark worked at Procter and Gamble in various marketing roles for nearly 12 years on P&G brands including Olay, Pampers and Oral-B.
James A. Norberg was named Chief Operating Officer, North America in November 2019 after serving as Chief Restaurant Operations Officer since July 2019. Mr. Norberg, a QSR industry veteran, spent more than 30 years of his career at McDonald’s. His most recent role there was Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer from 2014 to 2015,
where he managed operations for 14,000 U.S. restaurants. After his long tenure at McDonald’s, Norberg served as an independent strategic advisor from 2015 to 2019 to organizations in the restaurant, hospitality, entertainment and consumer goods categories. He serves as a member of the board of directors for Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, the world’s premier nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer workplace equality.
Caroline M. Oyler was appointed Chief Legal and Risk Officer in October 2018. Ms. Oyler previously served as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer from May 2018 to October 2018 and Senior Vice President, General Counsel from May 2014 to May 2018. Additionally, Ms. Oyler served as Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs from November 2012 to May 2014. She joined 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.
Jack H. Swaysland was appointed to Chief Operating Officer, International in May 2018 after serving as Senior Vice President, International since April 2016. Mr. Swaysland previously served as Vice President, International from April 2015 to April 2016, Regional Vice President, International from May 2013 to April 2015, and Vice President, International Operations from April 2010 to May 2013. Mr. Swaysland has served in various capacities of increasing responsibility in International Operations since joining the Company 13 years ago.
C. Max Wetzel was appointed Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer in November 2019. Mr. Wetzel joined Papa John’s after serving as Vice President Consumer Brands and Business Transformation – U.S. and Canada since July 2018 at PPG Architectural Coatings. Also at PPG, Mr. Wetzel served as Vice President Home Centers and Global Strategic Marketing from June 2016 through July 2018 and as General Manager Home Centers and Chief Marketing Officer U.S. & Canada starting in November 2014. Prior to PPG, Mr. Wetzel worked at H.J. Heinz Company for ten years in a variety of domestic and global roles, leading consumer-driven businesses, developing brand marketing strategies and delivering profitable growth.
There are no family relationships between any of the directors or executive officers of the Company.
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 17, 2021, there were 1,297 record holders of common stock. However, there are significantly more beneficial owners of our common stock than there are record holders.
On January 25, 2021, our Board of Directors declared a first quarter dividend of $0.225 per share of common stock (approximately $7.4 million was paid to common stockholders and $1.1 million was paid as “pass through” dividends to holders of Series B Preferred Stock on an “as converted basis”). The first quarter dividend on outstanding shares of Series B Preferred Stock was also declared on January 25, 2021. The common stock dividend was paid on February 19, 2021 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 8, 2021. The first quarter preferred dividend of $2.3 million will be paid to holders of Series B Preferred Stock on April 1, 2021.
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 at the current rate or at all.
Our Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $75.0 million of common stock under a share repurchase program that began on November 4, 2020 and is effective through December 31, 2021. In fiscal 2020, a total of 32,000 shares with an aggregate cost of $2.7 million and an average price of $83.90 per share were repurchased under this program. Funding for the share repurchase program has been provided through our operating cash flows.
The following table summarizes our repurchase activity by fiscal period during the fourth quarter ended December 27, 2020 (in thousands, except per share amounts):
of Shares Purchased
Value of Shares
as Part of Publicly
that May Yet Be
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs
11/23/2020 - 12/27/2020
Subsequent to year-end, we acquired an additional 15,000 shares at an aggregate cost of $1.3 million. Approximately $71.0 million remained available under the Company’s share repurchase program as of February 17, 2021.
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.
The information required by Item 5 with respect to securities authorized for issuance under equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Part III, Item 12 of this Form 10-K.
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 27, 2015 and December 27, 2020 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 27, 2015, and that all dividends were reinvested.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
The selected financial data presented for each of the past five fiscal years 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)
(In thousands, except per share data)
Income Statement Data
Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales
North America franchise royalties and fees (2)
North America commissary revenues
International revenues (3)
Refranchising and impairment gains/(losses), net
Operating income (4)
Income before income taxes
Income tax expense (benefit)
Net income before attribution to noncontrolling interests
Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests (5)
Net income attributable to the Company
Net income (loss) attributable to common shareholders
Basic earnings (loss) per common share
Diluted earnings (loss) per common share
Basic weighted average common shares outstanding
Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding
Dividends declared per common share
Balance Sheet Data
Series B Convertible Preferred Stock
Redeemable noncontrolling interests
Total stockholders’ (deficit) equity
|(1)||We operate on a 52-53 week fiscal year ending on the last Sunday of December of each year. All fiscal years consisted of 52 weeks with the exception of the 2017 fiscal year which consisted of 53 weeks. The additional week resulted in additional revenues of approximately $30.9 million and additional operating income of approximately $6.2 million, or $0.17 per diluted share for 2017.|
|(2)||North America franchise royalties were derived from franchised restaurant sales of $2.49 billion in 2020, $2.10 billion in 2019, $2.13 billion in 2018, $2.30 billion in 2017 ($2.25 billion on a 52-week basis), and $2.20 billion in 2016.|
|(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 $994.8 million in 2020, $884.4 million in 2019, $832.3 million in 2018, $761.3 million in 2017 ($744.0 million on a 52-week basis), and $648.9 million in 2016. Restaurant sales for international Company-owned restaurants were $6.2 million in 2018, $13.7 million in 2017 ($13.4 million on a 52-week basis), and $14.5 million in 2016 (none in 2020 and 2019).|
|(4)||The Company incurred $14.2 million and $25.3 million of Special charges in 2019 and 2018, respectively. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information.|
|(5)||Represents the noncontrolling interests’ allocation of income for our joint venture arrangements.|
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Papa John’s International, Inc. (referred to as the “Company,” “Papa John’s” or in the first-person notations of “we,” “us” and “our”) began operations in 1984. At December 27, 2020, there were 5,400 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 588 Company-owned and 4,812 franchised restaurants. Our revenues are derived from retail sales of pizza and other food and beverage products to the general public by Company-owned restaurants, franchise royalties, and sales of franchise and development rights. Additionally, approximately 46% to 48% of our North America revenues in each of the last two fiscal years were derived from sales to franchisees of various items including food and paper products from our domestic Quality Control Centers (“QC Centers”), printing and promotional items and information systems equipment, and software and related services. We also derive revenues from the operation of our international QC center in the United Kingdom and from contributions received by Papa John’s Marketing Fund (“PJMF”), our national marketing fund. We believe that in addition to supporting both Company and franchised profitability and growth, these activities contribute to product quality and consistency throughout the Papa John’s system.
We strive to obtain high-quality restaurant sites with good access and visibility and to enhance the appearance and quality of our restaurants. We believe these factors improve our image and brand awareness. Detailed below are progressions of our Domestic and International restaurants over the last two fiscal years:
Franchised North America
Total North America
Beginning - December 30, 2018
Ending - December 29, 2019
Ending - December 27, 2020
Recent Business Matters
In 2020, the Company focused on executing the strategic priorities and building a foundation for long-term success, including the specific items described below.
Innovation. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2019, the Company has embraced a new culture of innovation, delivering multiple new product innovations and marketing successes. In 2020, we launched Garlic Parmesan Crust Pizza, toasted handheld “Papadias” flatbread-style sandwiches, Jalapeno Popper Rolls, and the Shaq-a-Roni pizza. Of particular highlight, the Shaq-a-Roni pizza was launched as part of a fund-raiser for The Papa John’s Foundation, in collaboration with Shaquille O’Neal, our board member and restaurant owner. The Shaq-a-Roni pizza was a differentiated, high-value product, with a charitable component that supported meaningful causes aligned with our brand’s values. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we also tested Epic Stuffed Crust, which was officially launched in 2021. Epic Stuffed Crust was the Company’s biggest new product launch to date and builds upon our original fresh, never frozen, six-ingredient dough. Product innovation is not only an important part of our plan for 2021 to continue building sales but also represents another platform for our longer-term strategy and opportunity.
Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”). The COVID-19 outbreak began to result in disruption in certain of our international markets beginning in January 2020. Subsequently, the outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 and declared a national emergency in the United States during the same timeframe. The outbreak has presented evolving risks and developments domestically and internationally, as well as new opportunities for our business. Our delivery and carryout model has positioned us to continue to experience strong demand for our products. To ensure we can continue to meet the demand of our customers, we continue to monitor our supply chain and have not experienced material disruptions.
Our primary focus continues to be the safety of our team members, franchisees, and customers. The Company has taken steps to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing extra health and safety measures across our business, including No Contact Delivery and enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, for the protection of both our customers and team members. We have expanded our employee benefits to include free virtual doctor visits and paid special bonuses to many of our front-line team members. This is in addition to existing employee benefits of no-cost mental health support, affordable health plan options and access to the Papa John’s Team Member Emergency Relief Fund, if and when needed. In addition, the Company hired thousands of new restaurant team members in 2020 to help meet demand and serve our customers.
Of the Company’s 2,111 international franchised stores, approximately 65 stores were temporarily closed as of December 27, 2020, principally in Latin America and Europe, in accordance with government policies. In North America, almost all traditional restaurants remain open and fully operational. A number of non-traditional restaurants located in universities and stadiums are temporarily closed; these non-traditional locations are not significant to our revenues and operating results.
We believe the pandemic has accelerated our previously announced efforts to innovate and bring new and former customers to the Papa John’s system. We believe that even after the pandemic-related restrictions are lifted we will benefit from the increase in customers we have experienced due to our menu innovation, customer loyalty programs and our offerings of high-quality pizza and other menu items. Due to the substantial uncertainty related to the effects of the pandemic and its duration, we are unable to predict the specific impact the pandemic and related restrictions will have on our results of operations, liquidity or long-term financial condition, including whether and to what extent the increased demand for our products will continue. For a discussion of the risks to our business presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, see Item 1A. Risk Factors of this Form 10-K.
Strategic Corporate Reorganization for Long-term Growth. In the third quarter of 2020, we announced plans to open an office in Atlanta, Georgia located in Three Ballpark Center at The Battery Atlanta in the summer of 2021. The Atlanta office is part of a broader strategic reorganization of corporate functions reflecting the Company’s ongoing transformation into a brand and culture that can effectively and efficiently deliver on the Company’s purpose, values and strategic business priorities. Affected employees who do not relocate to Atlanta have been offered a separation package. As a result, we expect to incur certain one-time corporate reorganization costs of approximately $15.0 to $20.0 million related to employee severance and transition, recruitment and relocation and other third-party costs through 2021. Of that amount, we incurred costs of approximately $6.0 million in 2020.
Presentation of Financial Results
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The results of operations are based on our Consolidated Financial Statements, which were prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). The preparation of Consolidated Financial Statements requires management to select accounting policies for critical accounting areas as well as estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the Consolidated Financial Statements. The Company’s significant accounting policies, including recently issued accounting pronouncements, are more fully described in “Note 2” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.” Significant changes in assumptions and/or conditions in our critical accounting policies could materially impact the operating results. We have identified the following accounting policies and related judgments as critical to understanding the results of our operations:
Allowance for Credit Losses on Accounts and Franchisee Notes Receivable
As of December 27, 2020, accounts receivable was $93.8 million with an allowance for credit losses of $3.6 million and franchisee notes receivable was $51.1 million with an allowance for credit losses of $3.2 million. As of December 29, 2019, accounts receivable was $77.8 million with an allowance for credit losses of $7.3 million and franchisee notes receivable was $44.4 million with an allowance for credit losses of $3.6 million. Estimates of expected credit losses, even if remote, are based upon historical account write-off trends, facts about the current financial condition of the debtor, forecasts of future operating results based upon current trends of select operating metrics, and macroeconomic factors. The allowance for credit losses on franchisee note receivables is based on review of each franchisee’s economic performance and market conditions after consideration of the fair value of our underlying collateral rights (e.g., underlying franchisee business, property and equipment) and any guarantees. Credit quality is monitored through the timing of payments compared to the prescribed payment terms and known facts regarding the financial condition of the franchisee or customer. Account and note receivable balances are charged off against the allowance after recovery efforts have ceased.
Our insurance programs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned automobiles, general liability, property, and health insurance coverage provided to our employees are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels under our retention programs. Retention limits generally range from $1,000 to $1.0 million.
As of December 27, 2020 and December 29, 2019, our insurance reserves were $82.0 million and $75.2 million, respectively. Losses are accrued based upon undiscounted estimates of the liability for claims incurred and for events that have occurred but have not been reported using certain third-party actuarial projections and our claims loss experience. The determination of the recorded insurance reserves is highly judgmental and complex due to the significant uncertainty in the potential value of reported claims and the number and potential value of incurred but not reported claims, the application of significant judgment in making those estimates and the use of various actuarial valuation methods. The estimated insurance claims losses could be significantly affected should the frequency or ultimate cost of claims differ significantly from historical trends used to estimate the insurance reserves recorded by the Company. The Company records estimated losses above retention within its reserve with a corresponding receivable for expected amounts due from insurance carriers.
Intangible Assets — Goodwill
We evaluate goodwill annually in the fourth quarter or whenever we identify certain triggering events or circumstances that would more-likely-than-not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount. Such tests are completed separately with respect to the goodwill of each of our reporting units. We may perform a qualitative assessment or move directly to the quantitative assessment for any reporting unit in any period if we believe that it is more efficient or if impairment indicators exist.
We elected to perform a qualitative assessment for our operations in the fourth quarter of 2020. As a result of our qualitative analyses, we determined that it was more-likely-than-not that the fair values of our reporting units were greater than their carrying amounts. Subsequent to completing our goodwill impairment tests, no indicators of impairment were identified. See “Note 12” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Income Tax Accounts and Tax Reserves
Papa John’s is subject to income taxes in the United States and several foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in determining Papa John’s provision for income taxes and the related assets and liabilities. The provision for income taxes includes income taxes paid, currently payable or receivable and those deferred.
Deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on differences between financial reporting and tax basis of assets and liabilities and are measured using enacted tax rates and laws that are expected to be in effect when the differences reverse. Deferred tax assets are also recognized for the estimated future effects of tax attribute carryforwards (e.g., net operating losses, capital losses, and foreign tax credits). The effect on deferred taxes of changes in tax rates is recognized in the period in which the new tax rate is enacted. Valuation allowances are established when necessary on a jurisdictional basis to reduce deferred tax assets to the amounts we expect to realize.
Tax authorities periodically audit the Company. We record reserves and related interest and penalties for identified exposures as income tax expense. We evaluate these issues and adjust for events, such as statute of limitations expirations, court rulings or audit settlements, which may impact our ultimate payment for such exposures. We recognized a decrease in income tax expense of $500,000 and $400,000 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, associated with the finalization of certain income tax matters. See “Note 18” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Our fiscal year ends on the last Sunday in December of each year. All fiscal years presented in the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements consist of 52 weeks.
Results of Operations
2020 Compared to 2019
This section of this Form 10-K generally discusses fiscal 2020 and 2019 items and year-to-year comparisons between fiscal 2020 and 2019. Discussions of 2018 items and year-to-year comparisons between fiscal 2019 and 2018 that are not included in this Form 10-K can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2019.
Discussion of Revenues. Consolidated revenues increased $194.0 million, or 12.0%, to $1.81 billion in 2020, compared to $1.62 billion in 2019. Revenues are summarized in the following table (dollars in thousands).
Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales
North America franchise royalties and fees
North America commissary revenues
Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales increased $48.7 million, or 7.5%, in 2020. Excluding the impact of refranchising 46 restaurants in 2019 primarily located in South Florida and Georgia, Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales increased $79.2 million, or 12.7%. The increase was primarily due to positive comparable sales of 14.2%, partially offset by the 2019 favorable impact from the expiration of customer rewards associated with our Papa Rewards loyalty program of $6.0 million. “Comparable sales” represents the change in year-over-year sales for the same base of restaurants for the same fiscal periods.
North America franchise royalties and fees increased $24.9 million, or 34.7%, in 2020. Excluding the impact of refranchising, North America franchise royalties and fees increased $22.9 million, or 31.9%. The increase was primarily due to positive comparable sales of 18.6%. Franchise royalties and fees in 2020 also reflect a higher effective royalty rate due to lower temporary royalty relief which was part of our franchise assistance program (see “Temporary Franchise Support”).
North America franchise restaurant sales increased 18.6% to $2.49 billion for 2020 compared to prior year. North America franchise restaurant sales are not included in Company revenues; however, our North America franchise royalties are derived from these sales.
North America commissary revenues increased $68.1 million, or 11.1%, primarily due to higher volumes and pricing associated with higher commodities costs, primarily cheese.
International revenues increased $21.0 million, or 20.4%, in 2020 primarily due to higher PJUK commissary revenues and higher royalties from higher comparable sales of 12.6%.
International franchise restaurant sales increased 15.5% to $1.0 billion in 2020, excluding the impact of foreign currency, primarily due to increases in comparable sales. International franchise restaurant sales are not included in Company revenues; however, our international royalty revenue is derived from these sales.
Other revenues, which primarily includes our North America marketing fund