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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
xAnnual Report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
or
oTransition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the transition period from                             to                             
Commission File Number: 0-21660
PAPA JOHN’S INTERNATIONAL, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware61-1203323
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
2002 Papa John’s Boulevard
Louisville, Kentucky
40299-2367
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
(502) 261-7272
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
___________________________________________________________
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
(Title of Each Class)
Trading Symbol(s)
(Name of each exchange on which registered)
Common Stock, $0.01 par valuePZZAThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
___________________________________________________________
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No o
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 o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o
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). Yes x No o
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.
Large accelerated filerxAccelerated filero
Non-accelerated fileroSmaller reporting companyo
Emerging growth companyo
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 o
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.x
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, computed by reference to the closing sale price on The Nasdaq Stock Market as of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, June 25, 2023, was $2,291,573,796.
As of February 22, 2024, there were 32,767,073 shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding.


DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held May 2, 2024 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this annual report where indicated.


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PART I
Item 1. Business
General
Papa John’s International, Inc., a Delaware corporation (referred to as the “Company,” “Papa John’s,” “Papa Johns” 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 Johns.” Papa John’s began operations in 1984. At December 31, 2023, there were 5,906 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 648 Company-owned and 5,258 franchised restaurants operating in 50 countries and territories. Our Company-owned restaurants include 98 restaurants operated under three joint venture arrangements. In discussions of our business, “Domestic” is defined as within the contiguous United States, “North America” includes Canada, and “International” includes the rest of the world other than North America.
Strategy
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. Papa John’s is driven by five strategic priorities:
Build a culture of leaders who believe in diversity, inclusivity and winning. A diverse, inclusive environment is essential to attracting the talent that makes Papa Johns the world’s best pizza delivery company. See the “Human Capital” section below where we discuss our ongoing initiatives in this area.
Re-establish the superiority of our pizza via commercial platforms. 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 our signature pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes, real cheese and meat full of flavor, not filler. Our marketing and menu strategies focus on craveable products that provide both value and variety to our customers, drive sales and importantly, do not add significant complexity to our restaurant operations or to supply chain needs. We continue to make purposeful additions to our menu, ensuring these additions are well-timed for our growth, without sacrificing our premium quality. This deliberate strategy focuses on innovation that adds value to our system rather than short-term discounts, contributing to more productive ticket growth and, most importantly, higher customer satisfaction. We believe in the importance of providing options that appeal to our customers’ diverse dietary needs and preferences, and our nutritionists and food innovation teams are continuously looking for ways to reflect this in our menu. Our product innovations form the foundation of our strategy for growing comparable sales and improving unit economics.
Improve unit-level profitability and performance of our Company and franchisee restaurants. We continue to take proactive steps to drive profitable growth through targeted strategies. This includes growing ticket and transactions through menu innovations, customer insights, media efficiency, strategic pricing actions and development incentives. In addition to increasing average unit volumes, our strategy focuses on further sharpening our execution and driving BETTER customer experience for faster service while optimizing labor allocation, enhancing operational efficiencies and effectively managing margins.
We continue to look for ways to incent growth and improve restaurant margins. Beginning in 2024, we will increase the fixed operating margin that our Domestic commissaries charge. At the same time, we are offering new opportunities for our franchisees to earn annual incentive-based rebates as they increase volume and open new restaurants, which will drive continued supply chain productivity for our system. See “Recent Business Matters” in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
Leverage our technology infrastructure to drive our business operations. We utilize technology to deliver a better customer experience, improve operational efficiencies and inform our decision-making. Approximately 85% of our Domestic sales are through digital channels, including website, apps, third party aggregators, and centralized call centers. We believe that this technology leadership edge provides a competitive advantage when compared with other QSR models. We continue to invest in technology and data science to enhance our digital capabilities for both our customers as well as our employees. We remain committed to meeting customers where they want to order from us and to giving them high quality innovative products, providing great value, and delivering excellent service, regardless of the channel in which they order.
Our loyalty program (“Papa Rewards”) and one-to-one marketing platforms help us retain loyal customers and drive frequency and ticket on our own ordering channels. We have also been a leader in the use of third-party domestic delivery
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aggregators since 2019. As new national pizza chains arrive on the platform, the pizza category has continued to expand its share of the overall aggregator market because it’s a great product for home delivery. Our integrations with the aggregator marketplaces and our nationwide integration with a third-party delivery service provider have been key tools allowing us to continue to meet our customers in the channel of their choice. The “on-demand” labor that the aggregators provide through their “delivery as a service” model allows us to increase our volume in growing day parts like lunch and late night, when the unpredictable demand can make it difficult to predict staffing needs.
Profitably expand our footprint domestically and internationally. We continue to pursue a growth strategy by expanding our footprint, both domestically and internationally. We partner with growth-oriented operators to expand into new regions and markets, seeking to ensure our partners are aligned with our strategic priorities and committed to the Papa Johns brand. The majority of our top-25 North American franchisees have development agreements in place. As part of our previously announced International Transformation initiative, we are evolving our International business structure to strengthen our operational effectiveness and better position our key markets for profitable growth. These steps include establishing International regional hubs, increasing technology investments and optimizing our UK business model. See “Recent Business Matters” in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, and Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, Notes 16. Restructuring and 25. Subsequent Events to the Financial Statements for additional details.
A large majority of Papa John’s restaurants are franchised. We believe a franchised model provides resiliency of earnings and presents us with an opportunity to enhance growth with less capital investment than a traditional company-operated restaurant model. We seek to attract and retain franchisees with experience in restaurant or retail operations and with the financial resources and management capabilities to open and operate 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. Papa John’s franchise owners benefit from our award-winning brand, food service capabilities and the Papa John’s digital and delivery model.
We recently introduced a new development incentive for our U.S. franchisees designed to accelerate unit growth in 2024 and 2025 and reward growing franchisees. Qualified openings will be eligible for a reduction in Papa John’s Marketing Fund, Inc. (“PJMF”) contributions over a multi-year period. The value of this incentive is intended to significantly improve restaurant profitability in the initial years of operations, thus improving overall unit economics, strengthening the business case for new store development. We also introduced a new marketing strategy, lowering total advertising fees paid by franchisees while improving efficiency and return on ad spend. See “Recent Business Matters” in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
Segment Overview
Papa John’s has four defined reportable segments: Domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America franchising, North America commissaries (Quality Control Centers), and International.
Domestic Company-owned Restaurants
The Domestic Company-owned restaurant segment consists of the operations of all Domestic Company-owned restaurants and derives its revenues principally from retail sales of pizza, Papadias, and side items, including breadsticks, Papa Bites, cheesesticks, boneless chicken wings and bone-in chicken wings, dessert items and canned or bottled beverages. Of the total 3,433 North American restaurants open as of December 31, 2023, 531 units, or approximately 15%, were Company-owned. In 2023, the 512 Domestic Company-owned restaurants included in the full year’s comparable restaurant base generated average annual unit sales of $1.4 million.
Operating Company-owned restaurants allows us to improve operations, training, marketing and quality standards for the benefit of the entire Papa John’s system.
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 2,519 restaurants in the full year’s comparable base for 2023, generated average annual unit sales of $1.2 million. These sales, while not included in the Company’s revenues, contribute to our royalty revenues, franchisee marketing fund contributions, and commissary revenue.
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North America commissary
The North America commissary segment comprises 11 full-service regional dough production and distribution centers (Quality Control Centers, or “QC Centers”) in the United States, 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.
International
The International segment is defined as all restaurant operations outside of the United States and Canada. As of December 31, 2023, there were 2,473 International restaurants, comprised of 117 Company-owned restaurants in the UK and 2,356 franchised restaurants. The Company currently operates one International QC Center in the UK. The International segment also consists of distribution sales to Papa John’s restaurants located in the 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. Other QC Centers outside North America are operated by franchisees pursuant to license agreements or by other third parties.
All others
All other business units that do not meet the quantitative thresholds for determining reportable segments, which are not operating segments, are referred to as “all others.” These consist of operations that derive revenues from franchise contributions to our marketing funds and the sale, principally to Company-owned and franchised restaurants, of information systems and related services used in restaurant operations, including our point-of-sale system, online and other technology-based ordering platforms, and printing and promotional items. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the Company sold Preferred Marketing, our previously wholly-owned print and promotions company. See “Note 22. Divestitures” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Note 23. Segment Information of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for financial information about our segments.
Development
At December 31, 2023, there were 5,906 Papa John’s restaurants operating in 50 countries and territories, as follows:
Domestic Company OwnedFranchised North America Total North AmericaInternational Company OwnedInternational FranchisedTotal InternationalSystem-wide
December 25, 2022 (a)
522 2,854 3,376 — 2,322 2,322 5,698 
Opened87 92 — 234 234 326 
Closed(2)(33)(35)— (83)(83)(118)
Sold— (10)(10)— (118)(118)(128)
Acquired10 — 10 118 — 118 128 
Refranchised(4)— (1)— — 
December 31, 2023531 2,902 3,433 117 2,356 2,473 5,906 
Net unit growth/(decline)
48 57 117 34 151 208 
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(a)    Restaurant figures as of December 25, 2022 have been revised from previous presentations as eight international units were re-classified as closed locations following a review of temporary restaurant closures.
Our Domestic Company-owned restaurant growth strategy is to continue to open restaurants in existing markets as appropriate, thereby increasing consumer awareness, increasing market share, improving customer service and enabling us to take advantage of operational and marketing scale efficiencies. 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
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appropriate. Our Domestic Company-owned markets are comprised of strong performing restaurants and make them attractive locations either as Company-owned or franchised.
Our experience in developing markets indicates that market penetration through the opening of multiple restaurants in a particular region results in increased average restaurant sales over time. We will establish a development 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. Similarly to our Domestic Company-owned restaurant growth strategy, our International strategy has shown to build higher consumer awareness, increased market share, and improved operational efficiencies.
In the second and third quarters of 2023, we acquired 118 formerly-franchised restaurants in the UK as Company-owned restaurants. We recently announced International Transformation initiatives intended to enhance the profitability and cash flow of our UK portfolio and ensure alignment of the region and its performance with our long-term strategy. See “Recent Business Matters” in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, Notes 16. Restructuring and 25. Subsequent Events to the Financial Statements for additional details.
Franchise Program
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. A 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 to franchisees may reduce the contractual royalty rate paid.
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. However, 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. In certain cases, development agreements may be negotiated at other-than-standard terms for fees and royalties, and we may offer various development and royalty incentives.
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 31, 2023, net loans outstanding totaled $17.5 million. See “Note 2. Significant Accounting Policies” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
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Marketing Programs
Our Domestic marketing strategy consists of 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, such as television, radio, print, direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital, mobile marketing and local social media channels is optional for franchisees.
Domestic Company-owned and franchised Papa John’s restaurants within a defined market may, but are not 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 national marketing efforts are supported by media, print, digital and electronic advertising materials that are produced by Papa John’s Marketing Fund, Inc. (“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.
Human Capital
Our team members are critical to our success. As of December 31, 2023, we employed approximately 13,200 persons, of whom approximately 10,600 were team members at Company-owned restaurants, approximately 700 were management personnel at Company-owned restaurants, approximately 700 were corporate personnel and approximately 1,200 were QC Center team members. Our team members are non-unionized, and 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 the Papa John’s system, including our team members, franchisees and the team members of franchisees, was approximately 107,000 as of December 31, 2023.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
At Papa Johns, we welcome a wide array of voices to our table. A diverse, inclusive environment is essential to attracting the talent that makes Papa Johns the world’s best pizza delivery company. As such, we welcome all entrepreneurial spirits, innovators and pizza lovers. We continue to build a culture that reflects our corporate values of People First and Everyone Belongs and creates a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Across our restaurants, QC Centers and corporate hubs, Papa Johns team members are valued for their contributions, treated equitably, encouraged to share their feedback and ideas, provided the tools needed to ensure their safety and total wellness and given ample opportunities to grow in their careers. Papa Johns has received several external recognitions for 2023 for its efforts in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion, The Best Employers for Diversity and World’s Best Employers 2023 by Forbes and America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity, Women, LGBTQ+ and Job Starters 2023 by Newsweek.
Creating an inclusive and diverse culture that supports and values team members is important to attracting and retaining talented, dedicated employees. We have implemented initiatives to diversify our workforce and leadership pipeline by recruiting, developing and supporting talent who represent our customers and communities, to embed policies and practices that ensure fairness, build trust and hold ourselves accountable, and to instill and reward behaviors across the organization that foster belonging and increase employee engagement, including required unconscious bias training for team members, and annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) training for all team members, grant-making through the Papa John’s Foundation to national and local nonprofit partners for advancing DEI, our annual Week of Service and our eight global inclusion resource groups with leaders engaging across the organization.
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Talent Attraction, Retention and Development
Our ability to attract and retain hourly employees in our restaurants has become more challenging, especially as the job market has become more competitive. Our goal to help all Papa John's employees succeed begins with efforts to attract and recruit a wide range of people from different backgrounds, cultures, education experiences, religions and other indicators of diversity because we know a workforce that reflects the diversity of our customers and communities brings more innovative thinking and better ideas and solutions to our business. To meet job candidates where they live, and gain a deeper understanding of their personal, educational and professional goals, we sponsor and attend job fairs, scholarship programs and university and professional organization events and offer our team members hiring and referral bonuses. Our recruiting strategy aims to diversify the candidate pool for all manager level and above positions.
To help our team members succeed in their roles and to ensure consistent operational execution, we offer 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, through which instruction is given on all aspects of our systems and operations. In addition, to further support our team members’ development, we 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, among others. Employees working at least ten hours per week can obtain their High School Diplomas, learn English as a second language, and earn associate’s, bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees. We also offer a tuition reimbursement program that provides another opportunity for our team members to advance their careers.
Compensation and Benefits
One of our core values is People First. As such, we are committed to providing competitive pay and benefits to attract and retain talent, whether in our Domestic Company-owned restaurants, in our supply chain centers or in our corporate offices. We pay competitive wages to our front line team members in our Domestic Company-owned restaurants.
Papa John’s offers a comprehensive benefits package to eligible team members. We also make available to our team members several benefits designed to promote an inclusive workplace like paid parental leave, adoption support, and health plans that are available to dependents, spouses, and domestic partners. We offer eligible team members a 401(k) plan, with a competitive Company matching component to encourage retirement savings.
Beyond basic insurance programs, Papa John’s offers wellness services to help team members manage and optimize their health and well-being. These no-cost programs include smoking cessation, diabetes and hypertension management, weight management, and mental health support through Papa John’s employee assistance program for all part-time and full-time team members and their dependents. Papa John’s also makes available the “Papa Cares” program that provides corporate office team members an onsite health clinic that provides a wide range of primary care services for adults, adolescents and children.
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 offices to those working in our warehouses and restaurants, receive annual safety training based on the requirements of their roles. Our QC Centers and restaurant operations undergo annual safety audits, as well as random safety checks by regional safety managers and field safety coordinators.
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 a few large national chains and many smaller 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
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awareness in markets where we compete. Competition from delivery aggregators and other food delivery concepts also continues to increase. For more information, see “Item 1A—Risk Factors—Industry and Macroeconomic Risks—Our profitability may suffer as a result of intense competition in the QSR Pizza industry.”
Internationally, the pizza delivery model is not as mature as that of the Domestic market and presents a growth opportunity for Papa John’s. We believe demand from international consumers will continue to increase as the demand for pizza delivery and carryout continues. We continue to execute on our growth strategy and expand throughout the world.
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.
Supply Chain
In the United States, our 11 QC Centers produce dough and distribute substantially all key ingredients, including mozzarella, dough and pizza sauce, and other supplies, including food products, paper products, smallwares and cleaning supplies to Domestic Company-owned restaurants and franchised restaurants to ensure consistent food quality. Each Domestic franchisee is required to purchase pizza sauce and dough from our Domestic QC Centers, and purchases substantially all other food products from our QC Centers. We also have one QC Center in Canada that produces and distributes fresh dough, which provides further support to our North American franchisees. In our International segment, we operate one International QC Center in the UK and other International QC Centers are operated by franchisees pursuant to license agreements or by other third parties. We depend on a sole source for our supply of garlic sauce and we source other key ingredients, including meat products, from a limited number of suppliers. For a discussion of the related risks, see “Item 1A—Risk Factors—Company Risks—Increase in ingredient and other operating costs, including those caused by weather, climate change and food safety, could adversely affect our results of operations,” “—Our dependence on a sole supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some ingredients and other supplies could result in disruptions to our business,” and “—Changes in purchasing practices by our Domestic franchisees, or prolonged disruptions in our QC Center operations, could harm our commissary business.”
Government Regulation
We, along with our franchisees, are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws affecting the operation of our respective businesses, including laws and regulations related to 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-US jurisdiction in which we operate.
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Privacy and Data Protection
We are subject to privacy and data protection laws and regulations globally. The legal and regulatory landscape for privacy and data protection continues to evolve, and there has been an increase in attention given to privacy and data protection issues with the potential to impact our business. This includes recently enacted laws and regulations in the United States and in other countries which require notification to individuals and government authorities of breaches involving certain categories of personal information. Any changes in privacy and data protection laws or regulations could also adversely impact the way we use e-mail, text messages and other marketing techniques and could require changes in our marketing strategies. We have a privacy policy posted on our website at www.papajohns.com. The security of our financial data, customer information and other personal information is a priority for us.
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.
Environmental Matters
We are not aware of any federal, state, local or international environmental laws or regulations that we expect to materially affect our earnings or competitive position or result in material capital expenditures. However, we cannot predict the effect of possible future environment legislation or regulations on our operations. During 2023, we had no material environmental compliance-related capital expenditures, and no such material expenditures are anticipated in 2024.
Additional Information
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.
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Industry and Macroeconomic Risks
Economic conditions in the U.S. and international markets could adversely affect our business and financial results.
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 or recession, including deterioration in the economic conditions in the U.S. or international markets where we or our franchisees operate, or a slowing or stalled recovery therefrom, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations, including a reduction in the demand for our products, longer payment cycles, slower adoption of new technologies and increased price competition. Poor economic conditions have in the past adversely affected and may in the future affect the ability of our franchisees to pay royalties or amounts owed and could also disrupt our business and adversely affect our results. Higher inflation, and a related increase in costs, including elevated interest rates, as well as currency restrictions and changes in foreign exchange rates, have impacted our franchisees and their ability to pay royalties, open new restaurants or operate existing restaurants profitably. As we navigate this environment, we may need to offer support for certain franchisees in the form of royalty relief, loans or other support, close unprofitable restaurants or markets, and/or consider other alternatives such as acquiring or purchasing franchised restaurants, QC Centers or operations to operate them until they can be refranchised. In addition, adverse macroeconomic conditions, unforeseen geopolitical events, and other business-related changes in circumstances outside of our control have required us to close restaurants in the past and impacted our ability to collect royalties and/or achieve our net unit development targets.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations have been and could continue to be adversely affected by depressed economic and business conditions in the United Kingdom. There are approximately 500 Papa John’s restaurants located in the United Kingdom, and we also operate an International QC Center in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Company’s UK subsidiary also holds the master leases for nearly all of the corporate and franchise restaurant locations, which exposes us to rent liability. During 2022 and 2023, our business in the United Kingdom was subject to adverse macroeconomic conditions, including inflation, elevated interest rates, the energy crisis, slowing economic growth, and volatile exchange rates, which resulted in negative comparable sales and a challenging operating environment for our franchisees. These challenges also impacted the financial condition of our UK franchisees. We expect some of these conditions to continue in 2024. As we navigate this challenging economic environment, we are investing in capabilities to improve our operations and working to re-position the franchise base to further strengthen our business in the United Kingdom by exiting poorly performing franchisees and permanently closing certain restaurants. We also established a Company-owned restaurant portfolio in the United Kingdom in 2023, acquiring 118 Papa Johns restaurants in an effort to re-position the market. These Company-owned restaurants have incurred operating losses as we continue to evaluate current operational capabilities and implement improvements in revenue management capabilities, product and technological innovation and operational efficiencies to improve sales and restaurant-level profitability over the longer term. If our efforts to re-position the franchise base or improve the profitability of our Company-owned restaurants are unsuccessful, we might need to find new operators for certain unprofitable restaurants and/or close unprofitable locations in the future, which would trigger certain lease and/or loan impairments, and could adversely impact the Company’s financial condition and results of operations in the region. In addition, the Company has provided financial support to certain franchisees in the United Kingdom, including in the form of marketing support and loans. This franchisee support may not be sufficient to keep restaurants in the United Kingdom from closing, particularly if current economic conditions worsen, or our franchisees may not be able to repay their loans, pay royalties, and/or make rent payments under sub-leases with us. The Company is unable to predict the duration or the extent of the macroeconomic deterioration in the United Kingdom or the extent to which our corporate and franchised restaurants will be impacted.
We are also subject to ongoing 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.
We have recently acquired Company-owned restaurants in the United Kingdom, and are subject to increased risks presented by owning and operating restaurants internationally.
We recently acquired formerly-franchised Papa Johns restaurants located in the United Kingdom, and may purchase additional restaurants in the United Kingdom. Previously, all of the Papa Johns restaurants located in our International operations segment were franchised. As a result, the Company is exposed to risks of owning and operating restaurants located in the United Kingdom, including those related to business licensing and administrative challenges, lease liabilities, international economic and political conditions, currency regulations and fluctuations, compliance with international privacy and information security laws and regulations, the ability to adapt to differing cultures or consumer preferences, diverse government regulations and tax systems, the ability to identify, attract and retain experienced management and
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employee populations, and other legal, financial or regulatory impediments to the development or operation of the restaurants.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected by disruptions in the global economy caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and other actual and potential conflicts.
The global economy has been negatively impacted by the military conflict in Ukraine. Furthermore, governments in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union have each imposed export controls on certain products and financial and economic sanctions on certain industry sectors and parties in Russia. The Company has no company-owned restaurants in Russia or Ukraine and has suspended corporate support for its master franchisee in Russia, which operates and supplies all 188 franchised Papa John’s restaurants there. The Company is unable to predict how long the current environment will last or if it will resume corporate support to impacted franchised restaurants. The Company also has franchise locations in Israel and a significant franchise presence in the Middle East. In connection with the ongoing conflict in Gaza, some of our franchisees in the Middle East have experienced boycotts resulting in decreased development prospects, sales and profitability. The Company is unable to predict how long the current environment will last or the long-term impact to these franchised locations.
In addition, our international business is subject to the risks of other geopolitical tensions and conflicts, including, for example, the ongoing conflicts described above and changes in China-Taiwan and United States-China relations. We have franchised restaurants located in China, South Korea, Israel and the Middle East. Although we do not do business in North Korea, any future increase in tensions between South Korea and North Korea, such as an outbreak or escalation of military hostilities, or between Taiwan and China could materially adversely affect our operations in Asia or the global economy, which in turn would adversely impact our business. Likewise, an escalation of the conflict in Gaza could materially adversely affect our operations in Israel, Jordan, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East.
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, the imposition of increased or new tariffs or trade barriers and potential government seizures or nationalization. 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 almost 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 restaurants 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 (which could cause us to miss our net unit development targets).
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. Our International franchisees may also be impacted by currency restrictions imposed by governmental authorities, which could impact their ability to pay royalties in compliance with their franchise agreement. We have experienced situations with franchisees being subject to currency restrictions and unable pay royalties in U.S. dollars.
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We are subject to risks related to epidemic and pandemic outbreaks, including COVID-19, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We remain subject to risks related to epidemic and pandemic outbreaks, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has had, and may continue to have, adverse impacts on economic and market conditions and our business. COVID-19 created significant volatility, uncertainty and economic disruption in the regions in which we operate. Certain parts of our operations may continue to be impacted by the continuing effects of COVID-19, including resurgences and variants of the virus. It remains difficult to predict the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the broader economy and how consumer behavior may change, and whether such change is temporary or permanent. To the extent that COVID-19 continues to adversely affect the U.S. and global economy, our business, financial conditions or results of operations, it may also heighten other risks described in this section.
The potential adverse effects of potential epidemics or outbreaks could also include, but may not be limited to, our ability to meet consumer demand through the continued availability of our workforce and our franchisees’ workforce; other changes in labor markets affecting us, our franchisees and suppliers, supply chain disruptions and increases in operating costs; 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.
Our profitability may suffer as a result of intense competition in the QSR industry.
The QSR Pizza industry in the United States is mature and highly competitive. Competition is based on price, service, location, food quality, convenience, 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 local quick service pizza delivery restaurants and 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 or delivery service capabilities. The emergence or growth of these 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, profit margins, royalties, 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. In addition, if our competitors respond more effectively to changes in consumer preferences or increase their market share, it could have a negative effect on our business. 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.
We compete within the food service market and the QSR pizza market not only for customers, but also for management and hourly employees, including restaurant team members, drivers and qualified franchisees, as well as suitable real estate sites.
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, amenable to certain diets or lower in carbohydrates or otherwise based on their ingredients or nutritional content) or reduced consumption of pizza as a result of new weight loss drugs, such as GLP inhibitors and others. Preferences for a dining experience such as fast casual pizza concepts could also adversely affect our
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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 employment levels. 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 comply with 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 past 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 marketing and advertising, our corporate culture, our policies and systems related to DEI, our business practices, our engagement in local communities 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 current or former spokespersons, 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, influencers, and/or shareholder activism could adversely impact our business.
Social media platforms, including blogs, chat platforms, social media websites, and other forms of internet-based communications allow individuals access to a broad audience of consumers and other persons. The popularity of social media and other consumer-oriented technologies has increased the speed and accessibility of information dissemination, and could hamper our ability to promptly correct misrepresentations or otherwise respond effectively to negative publicity, whether or not accurate. The dissemination of proprietary Company or negative information, whether or not accurate, by customers, employees, social media influencers, and others 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 negatively impact brand value and revenue. Other risks associated with the use of social media include improper disclosure of proprietary information, negative comments about our brand, exposure of personally identifiable information, fraud, hoaxes or malicious dissemination of false information.
We are also subject to the risk of negative publicity associated with various shareholder proposals, campaigns, and activism, including publicity related to the environment, animal welfare, diversity, responsible sourcing, and other Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) topics. Despite our best efforts relating to ESG policies, initiatives and reporting, media reports and social media campaigns can create a negative opinion or perception of the company’s efforts.
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Such media reports and negative publicity could impact customer or investor perception of our Company or industry and can have a material adverse effect on our financial results.
In addition, we could be criticized for the scope or nature of our ESG initiatives or goals, or for any revisions to these goals. If our ESG-related data, processes and reporting fail to meet investor, customer, consumer, employee or other stakeholders’ evolving expectations and standards, are incomplete or inaccurate, or certain groups or customers disagree with our ESG initiatives or goals, or if we fail to achieve progress with respect to our goals within the scope of ESG on a timely basis, or at all, our reputation, brand, appeal to investors, employee retention, business, financial performance and growth could be adversely affected.
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 and compliance with applicable laws. The revenues we realize from franchised restaurants are largely dependent on the ability of our franchisees to maintain or grow their sales. If our franchisees do not maintain or grow sales, 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 in the past has resulted in, and could in the future result in, among other things, required financial support from us, higher numbers of restaurant closures (which could cause us to miss our net unit development targets), reduced numbers of restaurant openings, franchisee bankruptcies or restructuring activities, 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, compliance, 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 or applicable laws, 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 and ingredients. An increase in the cost or sustained high levels of the cost of cheese or other commodities and ingredients 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. We have recently experienced significant inflation in commodities prices, including food ingredients, which has significantly increased our operating expenses. Cheese, representing our largest food cost, and other commodities and ingredients can be subject to significant cost fluctuations due to inflation, 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, push notifications, social media 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, social media 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.
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Higher labor costs, increased competition for qualified team members and ensuring adequate staffing in our restaurants and QC Centers increase the cost of doing business. 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. We and our franchisees have experienced, and could continue to experience, a shortage of labor for restaurant positions due to job market trends and conditions, which shortage has increased our and our franchisees’ labor expenses and could decrease the pool of available qualified talent for key functions. 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 at or above 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 federal or state minimum wage requirement could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations, and the viability of our franchisees restaurants in certain markets.
Additionally, while we do not currently have a unionized workforce, certain employees of other companies in our industry have recently become unionized. If a significant portion of our corporate or franchisee’s workforce were to become unionized, labor costs could increase and our business could be negatively affected by union requirements that increase costs, disrupt business, reduce flexibility and affect the employer-employee relationship. Further, corporate or franchisees’ response to any union organizing efforts could negatively impact how our brand is perceived. We are also subject to potential joint-employer liability for issues that may occur with our franchise operations.
Our business depends on the proper allocation of our human capital and our ability to attract and retain talented management and other key employees.
There can be no assurance that our allocation of our human capital will effectively meet the needs of our business and brands. Further, our business is based on our and our franchisees’ ability to successfully attract and retain talented employees. Competition for restaurant employees has increased as more companies compete for these employees as aggregator adoption and usage continues to increase requiring more labor. The market for highly skilled employees and leaders in our industry is extremely competitive. If we are less successful in our recruiting efforts, or if we are unable to retain management and other key employees, our ability to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected. Effective succession planning is also important to our long-term success. The departure of a key executive or employee and/or the failure to ensure an effective transfer of knowledge and a smooth transition upon such departure may be disruptive to the business and could hinder our strategic planning and execution.
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 a majority 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
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failure to adequately invest in new technology and 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.
We cannot predict the impact that new or improved technologies, alternative methods of delivery, including autonomous vehicle delivery, or changes in consumer or employee behavior facilitated by these technologies and alternative methods of delivery will have on our business.
Advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence or alternative methods of delivery, including advances in digital ordering technology and autonomous vehicle delivery, or certain changes in consumer behavior driven by these or other technologies and methods of delivery could have a negative effect on our business and market position. Moreover, technology and consumer offerings continue to develop, and we expect that new or enhanced technologies and consumer offerings will be available in the future. We may pursue certain of those technologies and consumer offerings if we believe they offer a sustainable customer proposition and can be successfully integrated into our business model. However, we cannot predict consumer acceptance of these delivery channels or their impact on our business. In addition, our competitors, some of whom have greater resources than we do, may be able to benefit from changes in technologies or consumer acceptance of alternative methods of delivery, which could harm our competitive position.
There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully respond to changing consumer preferences, including with respect to new technologies and alternative methods of delivery, or to effectively adjust our product mix, service offerings, and marketing and merchandising initiatives for products and services that address, and anticipate advances in, technology and market trends. Alternative methods of delivery may also impact the potential labor pool from which we recruit our delivery drivers and could reduce the available supply of labor.
Company Risks
Our reorganization activities may increase our expenses, may not be successful, and may adversely impact employee hiring and retention.
We have incurred and expect to continue to incur certain non-recurring corporate reorganization costs, including the ongoing restructuring of our international business, and these expenses have impacted and could adversely impact our results of operations during the relevant period, reduce our cash position and/or result in an impairment risk related to these assets. Additionally, 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.
As a result of any corporate reorganization, we could face turnover in our corporate offices and international support teams that could distract our employees, decrease employee morale, harm our reputation, and negatively impact the overall performance of our corporate support teams. These or other similar risks, may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
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. In addition, our financial results may be harmed if our marketing, advertising, and promotional programs are less effective than those of our competitors, who may have greater resources which enable them to invest more than us in advertising. 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.
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Spokespersons 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, or increased commodity or operating costs, including, but not limited to, employee compensation and benefits or insurance costs, could slow the rate of new restaurant openings or increase the number of restaurant 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, or securing financing on favorable terms, finding suitable restaurant locations at acceptable terms or securing required Domestic or foreign government permits and approvals. Declines in comparable sales, net restaurant openings and related operating profits can impact our stock price. If we do not continue to grow 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 restaurant 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, prevailing interest rates and a franchisee’s creditworthiness, the number of new restaurant openings may be lower or the rate of closures may be higher than expected and our results of operations may be adversely impacted. The elevated interest rate environment has increased the cost of this financing to franchisees, which may make the financing less appealing to franchisees and increase the risk of defaults. To the extent we provide financing to franchisees, our results could be negatively impacted by negative performance of these franchisee loans, including franchisees defaulting on payment terms or being unable to repay loans.
Our dependence on a sole supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some ingredients and other supplies 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 garlic sauce, which constitutes a small percentage of our purchased food items. 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. While we strive to engage in a competitive bidding process for our ingredients, because certain of these ingredients, including meat products, may only be available from a limited number of vendors, we may not always be able to do so effectively. We may be subject to interruptions in supply or shortages of these items due to factors beyond our control or issues with our suppliers from time to time. Alternative sources of mozzarella cheese and 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.
Increase in ingredient and other operating costs, including those caused by weather, climate change and food safety, could adversely affect our results of operations.
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, public health crises, crop disease, food safety incidents, regulatory compliance, labor dispute or interruption of service by carriers could increase costs, limit the availability of
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ingredients critical to our restaurant operations and have a significant impact on results. Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including related to global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients, energy and other materials throughout our supply chain. 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, aggregators 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 cybersecurity incidents. 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, or prolonged disruptions in our QC Center operations, 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. In addition, any prolonged disruption in the operations of any of our QC facilities, whether due to technical, systems, operational or labor difficulties, destruction or damage to the facility, real estate issues, limited capacity or other reasons, could adversely affect our business and operating results. As a result of our increasing the domestic supply chain operating margin, we could experience a decline in our domestic supply chain sales or our franchisees may choose to source non-core products from other suppliers, which would impact the profitability of our QC Centers.
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, cyber insurance, 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 up to $0.5 million with even higher retention limits for certain types of coverage. 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.
Risks Related to our Indebtedness
We have incurred substantial debt obligations, which could adversely affect our financial condition, and we may incur more indebtedness, including secured debt, and take other actions that could further exacerbate the risks associated with our substantial indebtedness or affect our ability to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness.
Our outstanding debt as of December 31, 2023 was $764.0 million, which was comprised of $400.0 million outstanding under our 3.875% senior notes due 2029 (the “Notes”) and $364.0 million under our revolving credit facility (the “PJI Revolving Facility”) that forms part of our amended and restated credit agreement (the “Credit Agreement”). We had approximately $236.0 million of remaining availability under the PJI Revolving Facility as of December 31, 2023.
Our substantial level of indebtedness could have important consequences, including the following:
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, growth opportunities, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes;
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increase our vulnerability to and limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business, the industry in which we operate, regulatory and economic conditions;
expose us to the risk of increased interest rates as borrowings under our Credit Agreement will be subject to variable rates of interest;
increase our vulnerability to a downgrade of our credit rating, which could adversely affect our cost of funds, liquidity and access to capital markets;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt; and
limit our ability to borrow additional funds.
We expect to fund our expenses and to pay the principal of and interest on our indebtedness from cash flow from operations. Our ability to fund our expenses and to pay principal of and interest on our indebtedness when due thus depends on our future performance, which will be affected by financial, business, economic and other factors. We will not be able to control many of these factors, such as economic conditions in the markets where we operate and pressure from competitors.
In addition, subject to restrictions in the agreements governing our existing and any future indebtedness, we may incur additional indebtedness in the future, resulting in higher leverage. The Indenture and the Credit Agreement allow us to incur additional indebtedness, including secured debt. Such additional indebtedness may be substantial. Our ability to recapitalize, incur additional debt and take a number of other actions that are not prohibited by the Indenture or the Credit Agreement could have the effect of exacerbating the risks associated with our substantial indebtedness or diminishing our ability to make payments on our substantial indebtedness when due, which would reduce the availability of cash flow to fund acquisitions, working capital, capital expenditures, other growth opportunities and other general corporate purposes. In addition, increasing or elevated prevailing interest rates will increase the costs of our indebtedness if we incur additional indebtedness or refinance our existing indebtedness at higher rates.
The agreements governing our debt, including the Indenture governing our Notes and the Credit Agreement, contain various covenants that impose restrictions on us.
The Indenture and the Credit Agreement impose operating and financial restrictions on our activities. In particular, such agreements limit or prohibit our ability to, among other things:
incur additional indebtedness;
make certain investments;
sell assets, including capital stock of certain subsidiaries;
declare or pay dividends, repurchase or redeem stock or make other distributions to stockholders;
consolidate, merge, liquidate or dissolve;
enter into transactions with our affiliates; and
incur liens.
In addition, our Credit Agreement requires us to maintain compliance with specified leverage ratios under certain circumstances. Our ability to comply with these provisions may be affected by our business performance or events beyond our control, and these provisions could limit our ability to plan for or react to market conditions, meet capital needs or otherwise conduct our business activities and plans.
These restrictions on our ability to operate our business could seriously harm our business by, among other things, limiting our ability to take advantage of financing, merger and acquisition and other corporate opportunities.
Furthermore, various risks, uncertainties and events beyond our control could affect our ability to comply with these covenants. Failure to comply with any of the covenants in our existing or future financing agreements could result in a default under those agreements and under other agreements containing cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions, and could increase the costs or availability of credit for us. Such a default would permit lenders to accelerate the maturity of the debt under these agreements and to foreclose upon any collateral securing the debt. Under these circumstances, we might not have sufficient funds or other resources to satisfy all of our obligations. In addition, the limitations imposed by financing agreements on our ability to incur additional debt and to take other actions might significantly impair our ability to obtain other financing. We cannot assure you that we will be granted waivers or amendments to these agreements if for any reason we are unable to comply with these agreements or that we will be able to refinance our debt on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
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We are exposed to variable interest rates under our Credit Agreement, and increases in interest rates would also increase our debt service costs and could have a material negative impact our profitability.
We are exposed to variable interest rates under the Credit Agreement. We have entered into interest rate swaps that fix a 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.
General Risks
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 an epidemic, a pandemic or other widespread health crisis, 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.
Climate change may have an adverse impact on our business.
We operate in 50 countries globally and recognize that there are inherent climate-related risks wherever business is conducted. For example, as we noted above, the supply and price of our food ingredients can be affected by multiple factors, such as weather and water supply quality and availability, which factors may be caused by or exacerbated by climate change. While we believe our geographic diversity is likely to lessen the impact of individual climate-change related events on our financial results, our restaurants and operations may nonetheless be vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, which are predicted to increase the frequency and severity of weather events and other natural cycles such as wildfires, floods and droughts. Such events have the potential to disrupt our and our franchisees’ operations, cause restaurant closures, disrupt the business of our third-party suppliers and impact our customers, all of which may cause us to suffer losses and additional costs to maintain or resume 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, franchise, 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, online advertising, product marketing claims, mandatory fees, 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 state and local governments have implemented laws and ordinances that restrict the sale of certain food and drink products, the type of packaging and utensils that may be used, or the manner in which mandatory fees are disclosed to consumers.
Compliance with new or additional Domestic and International government data protection laws or regulations, including but not limited to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“EU GDPR”), the UK GDPR and DPA 2018, as amended, the Canada Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), The California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), the Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”), the Connecticut Data Privacy Act (“CTDPA”), the Utah Consumer Privacy Act (“UCPA”), the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“VCDPA”), and several other data privacy and biometric laws passed or enacted by U.S. states, which could increase costs for compliance. If we fail to comply with these laws or regulations, it could damage our brand and subject the Company to reputational damage, significant litigation, monetary damages, regulatory enforcement actions or fines in various jurisdictions. For example, a failure to comply with the EU GDPR could result in fines up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues.
There also has been increased stakeholder focus, including by US and foreign governmental authorities, investors, media and non-governmental organizations, on environmental sustainability matters, such as climate change, the reduction of
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greenhouse gases and water consumption. Legislative, regulatory or other efforts to combat climate change or other environmental concerns could result in future increases in taxes, restrictions on or increases in the costs of supplies, transportation and utilities, any of which could increase our operating costs and those of our franchisees, and necessitate future investments in facilities and equipment. These risks also include the increased pressure to make commitments, set targets, or establish additional goals to take actions to meet them, which could expose us and our franchisees to market, operational, execution and reputational costs or risks. These initiatives or goals could be difficult and expensive to implement, the technologies needed to implement them may not be cost effective and may not advance at a sufficient pace, and we could be criticized for the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of any disclosure.
In addition to the changing rules and regulations related to ESG matters imposed by governmental and self-regulatory organizations such as the SEC and the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, a variety of third-party organizations and institutional investors evaluate the stance and performance of companies on ESG topics, and the results of these assessments are widely publicized. These changing rules, regulations and stakeholder expectations have resulted in, and are likely to continue to result in, increased general and administrative expenses and increased management time and attention spent complying with or meeting such regulations and expectations. Further, statements about our ESG-related initiatives and goals, including any changes to such initiatives and goals, and progress against those goals, may be based on standards for measuring progress that are still developing, internal controls and processes that continue to evolve, and assumptions that are subject to change in the future.
Disruptions to 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, ransomware 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 use 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 cybersecurity 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. This could include the theft of our intellectual property, trade secrets or sensitive financial information. As techniques used in cyber-attacks evolve, including but not limited to the potential use of artificial intelligence in such attacks, 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. We have instituted controls, including cybersecurity governance controls that are intended to protect our information systems, our point-of-sale systems, our information technology systems and networks, we adhere to payment card industry data security standards and we limit third party access for vendors that require access to our restaurant networks. However, we cannot control or prevent every cybersecurity risk. The failure to prevent fraud or security incidents or to adequately invest in data
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security could harm our business and revenues due to the reputational damage to our brand. Such an incident could also result in litigation, regulatory actions or investigations, 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. Significant costs could be required to investigate security incidents, remedy cybersecurity problems, recover lost data, prevent future incidents and adapt systems and practices to react to the changing cyber environment. These include costs associated with notifying affected individuals and other agencies, additional security technologies, training, personnel, and experts. These costs, which could be material, could adversely impact our results of operations in the period in which they are incurred, including by interfering with the pursuit of other important business strategies and initiatives, and may not meaningfully limit the success of future attempts to breach our information technology systems. Media or other reports of existing or perceived security vulnerabilities in our systems or those of our third-party vendors can also adversely impact our brand and reputation and materially impact our business. Additionally, the techniques and sophistication used to conduct cyber-attacks and compromise information technology systems, as well as the sources and targets of these attacks, change frequently and are often not recognized until such attacks are launched or have been in place for a period of time.
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, data privacy, 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, data privacy, 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 results of operations. 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 any 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 perceived violations) 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.
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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
None.
Item 1C. Cybersecurity
Papa Johns’ cybersecurity program includes a defense-in-depth model that utilizes a variety of techniques and tools for protecting against, detecting, responding to and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. Our cybersecurity program is designed to prioritize detection, analysis and response to known and anticipated cyber threats, effective management of cyber risks, and resilience against cybersecurity incidents. Our program leverages industry frameworks, including the Payment Card Industry Standards (PCI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF).
Cybersecurity Governance
At Papa Johns, the Company’s cybersecurity strategy and risk management is overseen by the Board of the Directors (the “Board”) through its Audit Committee and implemented and managed by the Company’s Cyber Oversight Group, a cross-functional team of senior management.
Board Governance
The Audit Committee and the Board consider cybersecurity part of the Company’s overall enterprise risk management (“ERM”) function, which the Audit Committee oversees. The Audit Committee and the Board consider cybersecurity as part of the Company’s business strategy, financial planning, and capital allocation.
The Audit Committee oversees our information security program, which includes oversight of our cybersecurity program and cybersecurity risks. As part of its oversight responsibility, and pursuant to its charter, the Audit Committee reviews with management and reports to the full Board with respect to significant information security matters and risks and management’s actions to monitor and address identified issues. The Internal Audit team meets monthly with the VP, Information Security and Compliance officer along with key IT leadership to discuss open cyber or data security risks. This effort is to ensure items of risk are addressed and resolved in a timely manner. The Audit Committee receives updates from the Company’s Chief Insights and Technology Officer (“CITO”), VP, Information Security and Compliance, and/or members of our executive leadership team. Management also reports to the full Board at least annually regarding a comprehensive overview and status of the Company’s information security program. The Audit Committee is also apprised of cybersecurity incidents consistent with the provisions of our cybersecurity incident response plan (“IRP”) pertaining to escalation of more significant incidents.
Management Governance
The controls and processes employed to assess, identify and manage material risks from cybersecurity threats are implemented and overseen by our Cyber Oversight Group, led by our CITO and VP, Information Security and Compliance. Our CITO leverages his decades of experience as an IT professional with significant expertise in enterprise architecture, engineering, analytics and digital technology. In addition, our VP, Information Security and Compliance has over 20 years of experience as a Chief Information Security Officer in multiple industries and has received Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certifications. Our CITO and VP, Information Security and Compliance are responsible for the day-to-day management of the cybersecurity program, including the prevention, detection, investigation, and response to cybersecurity threats and incidents and are regularly engaged to help ensure the cybersecurity program functions effectively in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.
Members of our Cyber Oversight Group also include our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Legal and Risk Officer, Senior Director of Internal Audit and technology and data privacy in-house counsel. The Cyber Oversight Group is also tasked with reporting to the Audit Committee on cybersecurity risk management strategies, as well as any significant
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cybersecurity incidents that may occur. In addition, the Cyber Oversight Group meets at least four times per year, or with greater frequency as necessary, to, without limitation:
review with management the Company’s cybersecurity threat landscape, risks, and data security programs, and the Company’s management and mitigation of cybersecurity risks and incidents;
review with management the Company’s compliance with applicable information security and data protection laws and industry standards;
discuss with management the Company’s cybersecurity, technology and information systems policies as to risk assessment and risk management, including the guidelines and policies established by the Company to assess, monitor, and mitigate the Company’s significant cybersecurity, technology and information systems related risk exposures; and
review and provide oversight on the Company’s crisis preparedness with respect to cybersecurity, technology and information systems, including cybersecurity incident response preparedness, communication plans, and disaster recovery capabilities.
Processes for Assessing, Identifying and Managing Material Risks from Cybersecurity Threats
Our Cyber Oversight Group utilizes the IRP to: (1) prepare for and protect against cybersecurity incidents; (2) identify and analyze cybersecurity incidents; and (3) contain, eradicate, and help ensure appropriate reporting of cybersecurity events. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, the IRP provides a framework to coordinate the response. The IRP also addresses escalation protocols to senior management responsibility with respect to disclosure determinations related to a cybersecurity incident and provides for Audit Committee and Board briefings as appropriate. We also manage threats to our systems originating or associated with third party service providers by integrating cybersecurity requirements and other provisions into various contracts. Vulnerabilities and risks identified for our third-party vendors are handled through ongoing scanning and reviews.
We employ a variety of measures to prepare for and protect against, detect, and contain and eradicate cybersecurity incidents and threats. The preparatory and protective measures we have in place include, without limitation, password protection, multi-factor authentication, internal and external penetration testing, cybersecurity assessments, industry benchmarking, and annual cybersecurity awareness trainings for our employees as well as social engineering awareness simulations. To detect and analyze cybersecurity incidents, our cybersecurity program uses automated event-detection technology monitored by our cyber defense team, notifications from employees, vendors or service providers, and other tools. Once a potential cybersecurity incident is detected, our IRP sets forth the process we follow to investigate the potential incident and contain it. After the cybersecurity incident is contained, our focus shifts to remediation, eradication, and recovery, with such efforts dependent upon on the nature of the cybersecurity incident. We have relationships with a number of well-established third-party service providers to assist with cybersecurity incident response, containment and remediation efforts. We also maintain cybersecurity insurance providing coverage for certain costs related to cybersecurity incidents that impact our own systems, networks, and technology. While we maintain a robust cybersecurity program, the techniques used to infiltrate information technology systems continue to evolve. Accordingly, we may not be able to timely detect threats or anticipate and implement adequate security measures. For additional information, see “Item 1A—Risk Factors.”
Cybersecurity Risks
We are currently not aware of any material cybersecurity incidents or threats that have impacted the Company or our business, financial condition, results of operations, employees or customers in the past three years. However, we and our customers routinely face risks of cybersecurity incidents, wholly or partially beyond our control, as we rely heavily on our information technology systems, including digital ordering solutions through which more than 85% of our domestic sales originate. Although we make efforts to maintain the security and integrity of our information technology systems, these systems and the proprietary, confidential internal and customer information that resides on or is transmitted through them, are subject to the risk of a cybersecurity incident or disruption, and there can be no assurance that our security efforts and measures, and those of our third party providers, will prevent breakdowns or incidents affecting our or our third party providers’ databases or systems that could adversely affect our business. For a discussion of these risks, see “Item 1A—Risk Factors—Information Technology and Cybersecurity Risks—Disruptions of our critical business or information technology systems could harm our ability to compete and conduct our business” and “—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.”
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Item 2. Properties
As of December 31, 2023, there were 5,906 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.
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North America Restaurants:
Company (a)
FranchisedTotal
Alabama89 92
Alaska— 10 10
Arizona— 67 67
Arkansas— 28 28
California— 165 165
Colorado— 48 48
Connecticut— 5
Delaware— 17 17
District of Columbia— 9
Florida41 260 301
Georgia91 104 195
Hawaii— 19 19
Idaho— 13 13
Illinois73 81
Indiana46 95 141
Iowa— 25 25
Kansas16 21 37
Kentucky37 68 105
Louisiana— 59 59
Maine— 4
Maryland59 42 101
Massachusetts— 7
Michigan— 31 31
Minnesota— 37 37
Mississippi— 33 33
Missouri41 27 68
Montana— 9
Nebraska— 13 13
Nevada— 24 24
New Hampshire— 3
New Jersey— 57 57
New Mexico— 17 17
New York— 86 86
North Carolina104 81 185
North Dakota— 10 10
Ohio— 165 165
Oklahoma— 36 36
Oregon— 14 14
Pennsylvania— 88 88
Rhode Island— 2
South Carolina77 86
South Dakota— 11 11
Tennessee39 79 118
Texas— 310 310
Utah— 32 32
Virginia26 119 145
Washington— 49 49
West Virginia— 24 24
Wisconsin11 17 28
Wyoming— 10 10
Total U.S. Papa John’s Restaurants5312,6893,220
Canada— 213 213
Total North America Papa John’s Restaurants5312,9023,433
______________________________
(a)    Company-owned Papa John’s restaurants include restaurants owned by majority-owned subsidiaries. There were 98 such restaurants at December 31, 2023 (59 in Maryland, 26 in Virginia, and 13 in Georgia).
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International Restaurants:
CompanyFranchisedTotal
Azerbaijan— 15 15 
Bahrain— 23 23 
Bolivia— 
Cambodia— 
Chile— 154 154 
China— 317 317 
Colombia— 60 60 
Costa Rica— 56 56 
Cyprus— 10 10 
Dominican Republic— 21 21 
Ecuador— 31 31 
Egypt— 78 78 
El Salvador— 41 41 
Germany— 14 14 
Guam— 
Guatemala— 35 35 
Honduras— 15 15 
Iraq— 
Ireland— 80 80 
Israel— 29 29 
Jordan— 
Kazakhstan— 11 11 
Kenya— 
Kuwait— 35 35 
Kyrgyzstan— 
Mexico— 50 50 
Morocco— 
Netherlands— 17 17 
Nicaragua— 
Oman— 28 28 
Pakistan— 28 28 
Panama— 34 34 
Peru— 60 60 
Philippines— 15 15 
Poland— 11 11 
Portugal— 
Puerto Rico— 26 26 
Qatar— 55 55 
Saudi Arabia— 24 24 
South Korea— 254 254 
Spain— 90 90 
Trinidad— 
Tunisia— 14 14 
Turkey— 55 55 
United Arab Emirates— 92 92 
United Kingdom117 407 524 
Uzbekistan— 
Venezuela— 19 19 
Total International Papa John’s Restaurants117 2,356 2,473 
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
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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 48 Domestic leases.
Our corporate office in Atlanta, Georgia, is located in a leased space. Nine of our 12 North America QC Centers are located in leased spaces, with the remaining three QC Centers located in buildings we own. Our corporate office located in Louisville, Kentucky is in a building owned by us. We also maintain a Company-owned office and a full-service QC Center outside of London, UK, where our International operations are managed. As of the fourth quarter of 2023, we leased the building of our previously-owned printing operations located in Louisville to a third-party. See “Note 22. Divestitures” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
At December 31, 2023, we leased and subleased approximately 322 Papa John’s restaurant sites to franchisees in the UK. The initial lease terms on the franchised sites in the UK are generally 15 years. The Company has the option to negotiate an extension toward the end of the lease term at the landlord’s discretion. The initial lease terms of the franchisee subleases are generally five to ten years. See “Note 3. Leases” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
The information contained in “Note 19. Litigation, Commitments and Contingencies” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” is incorporated by reference herein.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
None.
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Information About Our Executive Officers
Set forth below are the current executive officers of Papa John’s:
NameAge1PositionFirst Elected
Executive Officer
Robert M. Lynch47President and Chief Executive Officer2019
Ravi Thanawala39Chief Financial Officer2023
Amanda Clark244Chief International Officer2020
Caroline M. Oyler58Chief Legal and Risk Officer and Corporate Secretary2018
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.
Ravi Thanawala was appointed Chief Financial Officer in July 2023. He joined Papa Johns from Nike, Inc., where he most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of Nike North America. During his seven years at Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala also served as the Global VP and CFO of the Converse brand, which included working within a franchise model that comprised most of the brand’s international business. In addition, he was the Global VP of Retail Excellence, overseeing the brand’s performance across its business channels of franchises, licenses, direct to consumer and wholesale during a time of digital transformation for the business. Prior to Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala spent eight years at ANN INC. with progressively increasing responsibilities in finance and operations. He served in the finance leadership role for LOFT; led ANN INC’s Asia operations, global logistics and international trade based in Hong Kong; and eventually became CFO of the ANN INC. business, a subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group, Inc.
Amanda Clark was appointed Chief Operating Officer, International in September 2023 after previously serving as Chief International and Development Officer since May 2022 and Chief Development Officer since joining Papa Johns in February 2020. Ms. Clark joined Papa Johns from Taco Bell where she served as Executive Vice President of Restaurant Experience from February 2019 to February 2020. She also served as Senior Vice President, North America Development from May 2017 to February 2019. In addition, Ms. Clark served as general manager for Taco Bell Canada. Prior to joining Taco Bell, she worked at Procter and Gamble for nearly 12 years on some of P&G’s biggest brands, such as Olay, Pampers and Oral-B.
Caroline M. Oyler was appointed Corporate Secretary in July 2020 and Chief Legal & 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 and as Vice President and Senior Counsel since joining the Company’s legal department in 1999. She also served as interim head of Human Resources from December 2008 to September 2009. Prior to joining Papa Johns, Ms. Oyler practiced law with the firm Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs LLP.
There are no family relationships between any of the directors or executive officers of the Company.
1 Ages are as of January 1, 2024
2 On January 23, 2024, Amanda Clark notified the Company of her intention to resign from her position with the Company, effective March 1, 2024.
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PART II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock trades on The Nasdaq Global Select Market tier of The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol “PZZA.” As of February 22, 2024, there were 1,326 record holders of our common stock. However, there are significantly more beneficial owners of our common stock than there are record holders.
On January 30, 2024, our Board of Directors declared a first quarter 2024 dividend of $0.46 per common share. The dividend was paid on February 23, 2024 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 12, 2024.
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, contractual restrictions, including the terms of the agreements governing our debt and any future indebtedness we may incur 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.
On October 28, 2021, our Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program with an indefinite duration for up to $425.0 million of the Company’s common stock. In fiscal 2023, approximately 2,523,000 shares with an aggregate cost of $209.6 million and an average price of $83.10 per share were repurchased under our share repurchase program. This includes the repurchase of approximately 2.2 million shares from certain funds affiliated with, or managed by, Starboard Value LP; refer to “Note 6. Stockholders’ Deficit” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional details. Funding for the share repurchase program was provided through our operating cash flows and cash provided from borrowings under our $600.0 million revolving credit facility (the “PJI Revolving Facility”).
The following table summarizes our repurchase activity by fiscal period during the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2023 (in thousands, except per share amounts):
Fiscal PeriodTotal
Number
of Shares
Purchased
Average
Price
Paid per
Share
Total Number
of Shares Purchased
as Part of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs
Maximum Dollar
Value of Shares
that May Yet Be
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs
9/25/2023 - 10/22/2023$— $90,160 
10/23/2023 - 11/19/2023— 90,160 
11/20/2023 - 12/31/2023— 90,160 
Total$— $90,160 
We did not repurchase any shares subsequent to year-end. Approximately $90.2 million remained available under the Company’s share repurchase program as of February 22, 2024.
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.
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Stock Performance Graph
The following performance graph compares the cumulative shareholder return of the Company’s common stock for the five-year period between December 30, 2018 and December 31, 2023 to (i) the Nasdaq U.S. Benchmark TR 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 hypothetical investments in the Company’s common stock and in each index was $100 on December 30, 2018, and that all dividends were reinvested on the day of issuance. The returns shown are based on historical results and are not intended to suggest future performance.
Comparison of Cumulative 5-Year Total Shareholder Return
Stock Price Plus Reinvested Dividends
3632
https://cdn.kscope.io/1a64e709721aa84debc89345b40a34f0-PJI .jpgPapa Johns International, Inc. https://cdn.kscope.io/1a64e709721aa84debc89345b40a34f0-TR index.jpg NASDAQ U.S. Benchmark TR Index https://cdn.kscope.io/1a64e709721aa84debc89345b40a34f0-EandD.jpgNASDAQ Stocks (SIC 5800-5899 U.S. Companies) Eating and Drinking

Dec. 29, 2019Dec. 27, 2020Dec. 26, 2021Dec. 25, 2022Dec. 31, 2023
Papa John’s International, Inc.$162.33$223.01$341.19$219.66$203.98
NASDAQ U.S. Benchmark, TR Index$132.65$159.01$200.62$162.25$205.01
NASDAQ Stocks - Eating and Drinking$133.61$156.46$176.01$156.06$163.78

Item 6. [Reserved]
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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Introduction and Overview
The following Management’s Discussion and Analysis (“MD&A”) should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data and the Risk Factors set forth in Item 1A. Risk Factors.
This section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K generally discusses fiscal 2023 and 2022 items and year-to-year comparisons between the years ended December 31, 2023 and December 25, 2022. Discussion of 2021 items and year-to-year comparisons between the years ended December 25, 2022 and December 26, 2021 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 25, 2022.
Our fiscal year ends on the last Sunday in December of each year. All fiscal years presented consist of 52 weeks except for the 2023 fiscal year, which consists of 53 weeks.
Papa John’s International, Inc. (referred to as the “Company,” “Papa John’s,” “Papa Johns” or in the first-person notations of “we,” “us” and “our”) began operations in 1984. At December 31, 2023, there were 5,906 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 648 Company-owned and 5,258 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 50% 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”), operation of our International QC Center in the United Kingdom, contributions received by Papa John’s Marketing Fund, Inc. (“PJMF”) which is our national marketing fund, printing and promotional items and information systems equipment, and software and related services. 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.
Recent Business Matters
In 2023, the Company focused on executing strategic priorities and building a foundation for long-term success, while navigating a dynamic macroeconomic environment. Our progress and significant transactions during the year are described below.
Growth Strategy. The Company delivered its eighteenth consecutive quarter of Global system-wide restaurant sales growth, fueled by continued product innovation and expansion both domestically and internationally. We launched the “Back to BETTER” initiative in late 2022, which focused on improving operational execution at the restaurant level in order to drive better financial performance. We have improved out-the-door times and overall customer satisfaction, and focused on increasing orders and optimization. Running BETTER operations is intended to increase customer and employee satisfaction, as well as drive customer loyalty. We are seeing improvement in our restaurant level operating margins, and we experienced a 3.4% increase in comparable sales for Domestic Company-owned restaurants for 2023. Focusing on future growth, we recently announced “Back to BETTER 2.0,” which is comprised of long-term strategic initiatives focused on driving systemwide sales through enhancing North America national marketing investment and effectiveness and accelerating North America development. In addition, we are evolving our Domestic Commissary business to provide cost savings for our franchisees and incremental profit for our business model.
Product innovation: Our menu and digital innovations are an important part of our long-term strategy to drive new customers and ticket sales. We focus our menu innovations on products that add both value and variety for our customers but do not add complexity to our restaurant operations or to our supply chain. Our menu innovation calendar is expansive, flexible and differentiated and allows us to adjust our offerings depending on what customers want – whether that is extending a Limited-Time-Offer or building upon existing platforms. We believe our digital innovations, like our website, digital app, third-party aggregator partnerships and Papa Call call centers are a differentiator for our customers and provide attractive channels that promote customer retention and help us grow our customer base. In 2023, approximately 85% of our Domestic transactions came through these digital channels.
Marketing strategy: We are activating a new marketing strategy in 2024. Based on a comprehensive review of our creative and media strategy, we have identified opportunities to improve audience selection, offer differentiated category solutions, improve marketing return on ad spend, sustain loyalty and create cultural buzz.
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Correspondingly, our franchisees have voted to increase the contribution rate to PJMF by 20%, or 100 basis points of sales. This change is intended to increase the productivity of franchisees’ marketing contributions by leveraging the scale that national investments deliver. At the same time, we have made local marketing optional for franchisees, resulting in a net decrease in required marketing spend and an opportunity to increase the overall profitability of restaurants.
Development strategy: Our expanding development pipeline is also a key long-term growth driver as we believe there is significant opportunity to offer our differentiated, premium position to more customers globally and domestically. In 2023, we expanded our global footprint by 3.7%, with 208 net new units comprised of 57 net unit openings in North America and 151 net unit openings in International markets.
To pursue the significant opportunities we have identified in the U.S. and accelerate development in 2024 and beyond, we have designed a new development incentive intended to deliver higher restaurant-level profit margins for new restaurants opened in 2024 through a waiver of PJMF contributions during the first five years of operations. We are also offering a three-year waiver of PJMF contributions for new restaurants opened in 2025. This new incentive is intended to improve profitability for franchisees, add scale in key markets and attract growth-driven franchisees.
We are pleased with the performance of our recently opened restaurants in North America and expect net new unit development for North America to increase by more than 20% in 2024 relative to 2023 net unit openings. From an International perspective, we are approaching 2024 with caution taking into account the ongoing dynamic geopolitical environment. In addition, this year we anticipate an increased number of strategic restaurant closures in certain markets which will likely have an impact on our ability to execute on our net new unit development goals in the near-term. In 2024, we expect gross openings of more than 100 new International restaurants. Additionally, we will evaluate making strategic restaurant closures in markets to improve marketplace health and exit unprofitable restaurants. As such, our anticipated gross openings could be offset by the closure of underperforming Company-owned and franchised restaurants to enhance long-term profitability.
Domestic commissary growth strategy: To drive profitable growth and overall supply chain productivity that provides cost savings and incremental profit for the system, we are evolving our commissary business. Beginning in 2024, we will increase the fixed operating margin that Domestic QC Centers charge by 100 basis points in each of the next four years, moving from 4% in 2023 to 8% in 2027. In total, this change should equate to approximately 100 basis points of cost at the restaurant level. To mitigate this cost for franchisees, we will offer new opportunities for franchisees to earn annual incentive-based rebates as they increase volume and open new restaurants. Franchisees who increase case-volume purchases at the highest volume growth could realize target market rates lower than the current 4% rate. Additionally, we expect the incremental volume driven by increased marketing and additional development will reduce the shared supply chain costs across the system. Lastly, we will be focused on driving continued productivity throughout the supply chain through improved operations and supplier relationships.
International strategy: In the fourth quarter of 2023, the Company launched several initiatives as part of the International Transformation Plan described in Note 16. Restructuring of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” to evolve its international business structure, which resulted in charges of $2.2 million in the fourth quarter. These initiatives include the following:
Establish International Regional Hubs – To deliver a frictionless, locally-valued offering with a recognizable and consistent customer experience, we are establishing hubs in our key regions – APAC (Asia Pacific), EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and Latin America. These regional hubs will be led by experienced General Managers and their teams who will partner with franchisees to create a holistic strategy to boost performance in their markets. These teams will align global best practices in operations, marketing and technology with local preferences and needs to accomplish our long-term objective of increasing market share in key markets around the world.
Increase Technology Investments – To further our ability to deliver impactful innovations, targeted marketing, and enhanced value in key international markets, we are increasing our investment in consumer-facing technology, digital infrastructure and enhanced reporting. By investing in expanded ordering capabilities through its website and app and leveraging analytics, we expect to improve purchase conversion, increase customer retention and deliver faster consumer insights to franchisees.
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Optimize UK Business Model – Over the past two years, the Papa Johns restaurants in the UK have experienced declines in sales. As we have navigated a dynamic economic environment and worked towards repositioning the market, we established a Company-owned restaurant portfolio in the UK, acquiring 118 restaurants in the second and third quarters of 2023. These Company-owned restaurants incurred operating losses in 2023. In order to set up our largest international market for long-term success, we will continue to focus on driving profitability and strengthening our franchisee base within the UK. As a result, multiple low-performing franchised restaurants were closed in the fourth quarter of 2023. In February 2024, our Board of Directors approved the planned closure of approximately 50 underperforming Company-owned restaurants in the United Kingdom during the first six months of 2024. As a result of the planned closures, the Company expects to incur restructuring charges of approximately $10.0 million to $15.0 million, which we expect will primarily be comprised of non-cash lease and fixed asset impairment charges and will be recognized during 2024 within our International segment. We are continuing to evaluate our restaurant portfolio in the UK, which may result in additional strategic restaurant closures or divestitures. Future closures would likely result in additional restructuring charges comprised primarily of lease, loan, and fixed asset impairment, though the amounts and nature of future expenses are currently not estimable as specific actions to effect those closures have not yet been determined. The Company currently expects any resulting restructuring costs to be recognized in 2024 and 2025. See Note “16. Restructuring” and Note “25. Subsequent Events” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional details.
Significant 2022 transactions
Refranchising. In 2022, the Company sold its 51 percent controlling interest in a joint venture between Papa Johns and Blue and Silver Ventures, Ltd. (“Blue and Silver Ventures”). Sun Holdings, Inc. (“Sun Holdings”), a leading multi-brand franchisee operator and one of Papa John’s largest Domestic franchise partners, assumed control of the 90 Papa John’s restaurants in Texas that operated under the joint venture. By strategically refranchising its controlling interests in its joint venture with Blue and Silver Ventures to Sun Holdings, the Company provided Sun Holdings substantial scale to support new restaurant openings under its current, 100-restaurant development agreement with the Company. This commitment is in addition to the 90 refranchised restaurants. As a result, the deal is expected to accelerate the Company’s Domestic development, contributing to long-term earnings via high-margin franchise royalty growth. The restaurants were consolidated in the Company’s results through the date of the transaction, and their results are included in the Company’s North America franchise royalties and fees beginning March 29, 2022. See “Note 22. Divestitures” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for further information.
Suspension of Franchisee Support in Russia. The Company has no Company-owned restaurants in Russia or Ukraine. At the end of fiscal year 2021, 188 franchised restaurants were located in Russia, all of which were operated and supplied through a master franchisee. As of March 2022, Papa John’s suspended its corporate operations and support for franchised restaurants in Russia, and fully reserved all receivables from the aforementioned master franchisee. The Company recognized $17.4 million in one-time, non-cash charges related to reserves for certain loans and impairments of reacquired franchised rights due to the conflict in Ukraine and subsequent international government actions and sanctions, which were recorded as Refranchising and impairment loss of $2.8 million and General and administrative expenses of $14.6 million. All assets related to the franchised operations in Russia have been fully reserved or impaired, so there are no additional Russia related charges for reserves, write-offs, or impairments of amounts recorded on the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
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 make estimates and judgments that affect the amounts reported in the Consolidated Financial Statements. A number of our significant accounting policies involve a significant level of estimation uncertainty and have had or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations. On an ongoing basis, our management evaluates its estimates, including those related to insurance reserves, long-lived assets, the allowance for credit losses on franchisee notes receivable, and income taxes. Actual results may differ from those estimates, and significant changes in assumptions and/or conditions in our critical accounting policies could materially impact our operating results. The Company’s significant accounting policies, including recently issued accounting pronouncements, are more fully described in “Note 2. Significant Accounting Policies” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.”
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We believe that our most critical accounting estimates are:
Insurance Reserves
Our insurance programs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned automobiles, general liability and property insurance coverage are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels. Retention limits range up to $0.5 million. We record the liability for losses 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 historical claims loss experience.
As of December 31, 2023, our insurance reserves were $56.8 million compared to $67.3 million at December 25, 2022. Reserves are included in Accrued expenses and other current liabilities and Other long-term liabilities on the Consolidated Balance Sheets. Our insurance reserves primarily relate to auto liability and workers’ compensation claims and include the gross up of claims above our retention levels, with a corresponding receivable recorded in Prepaid expenses and other current assets and Other assets on the Consolidated Balance Sheets. The insurance reserves represent the mid-point of the range as determined by our actuarial analysis, which considered various actuarial valuation methodologies. The determination of the recorded insurance reserves is highly 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.
Property and Equipment, Net and Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
We record property and equipment at its historical cost, which includes all costs necessarily incurred to bring the asset to the condition and location necessary for its intended use. Purchases of property and equipment were $76.6 million in 2023, $78.4 million in 2022, and $68.6 million in 2021. Property and equipment are depreciated on a straight-line basis over their useful lives, which are based on management’s estimates of the period over which the assets provide a benefit to the Company. The useful lives are estimated based on historical experience with similar assets as well as other information regarding condition and utility of the assets. Our asset useful lives are generally five to ten years for restaurant, commissary, and other equipment, twenty to forty years for buildings and improvements, and five years for technology, communication assets, and capitalized software. Leasehold improvements are amortized over the shorter of their estimated useful lives or the term of the respective lease, including the first renewal period (generally five to ten years). Depreciation expense was $54.3 million in 2023, $45.6 million in 2022 and $43.0 million in 2021.
We evaluate property and equipment and other long-lived assets (primarily right-of-use operating lease assets) for potential indicators of impairment at least annually, or as facts and circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the asset may not be recoverable. We perform these assessments at the operating market level, as this represents the lowest level for which identifiable cash flows are largely independent of the cash flows of other assets and liabilities. If we determine there are indicators of impairment, we compare the net carrying value of the asset group to the projected undiscounted cash flows to be generated from the use of the asset group. If the carrying amount of the long-lived asset group exceeds the amount of estimated future undiscounted cash flows, then we estimate the fair value of the asset group and record an impairment loss if the carrying value exceeds fair value. If indicators of impairment are present, calculating projected undiscounted cash flows requires management to make assumptions and estimates for factors that include future comparable sales growth and gross margin based on internal projections as well as the historical performance of the market and whether that is an indicator of future performance. These assumptions for future growth are subjective and may be negatively impacted by future changes in operating performance or economic conditions. We did not record any impairment losses on property and equipment during 2023 or 2021, and recognized lease impairment charges of $0.9 million in 2022 related to the termination of a specific and significant franchisee in the UK.
Allowance for Credit Losses on Franchisee Notes Receivable
The Company has provided financing (recorded as notes receivable) to select Domestic and International franchisees principally for use in the construction and development of their restaurants and for the purchase of restaurants from the Company or other franchisees. Most notes receivable bear interest at fixed or floating rates and are generally secured by the assets of each restaurant and the ownership interests in the franchise. The Company has also provided long-term financing to certain franchisees with royalty payment plans.
The Company establishes an allowance for credit losses on franchisee notes receivables based on management’s estimate of the lifetime expected loss on the notes. The allowance for credit losses on notes receivable is judgmental and subjective based on management’s evaluation of historical collection experience and external market data and other factors, including those related to current market conditions and events. The Company is provided collateral rights of the franchisee’s restaurants (e.g., underlying franchise business, property and equipment) and personal guarantees from the operators to recover the carrying value of the outstanding note receivable in the event collectability concerns arise. Therefore, the
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Company considers the fair value of the underlying collateral rights (e.g., underlying franchisee business, property and equipment) and any guarantees when assessing the allowance for credit losses (which may require third-party valuations of fair value). Notes receivable balances are charged off against the allowance after recovery efforts have ceased.
Franchisee notes receivable was $33.6 million with an allowance for credit losses of $16.1 million as of December 31, 2023 compared to $42.6 million with an allowance for credit losses of $14.5 million as of December 25, 2022. See “Note 10. Allowance for Credit Losses” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for further 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 and were $37.6 million and $32.1 million as of December 31, 2023 and December 25, 2022, respectively. The determination as to whether a deferred tax asset will be realized is based on the evaluation of historical profitability, future market growth, future taxable income, the expected timing of the reversals of existing temporary differences and tax planning strategies. The Company assesses deferred taxes and the adequacy or need for a valuation allowance on a quarterly basis.
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.
In the event the Company is unable to generate future taxable income, there is a material change in the actual effective tax rates, the time period within which the underlying temporary differences become taxable or deductible, or if the tax laws change unfavorably, then we could be required to increase the valuation allowance against deferred tax assets, resulting in an increase in income tax expense and the effective tax rate. We estimate that a one percent change in the effective income tax rate would impact the 2023 income tax expense by $1.0 million. See “Note 17. Income Taxes” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Global Restaurant Sales and Unit Information
“Comparable sales” represents the change in year-over-year sales for the same base of restaurants for the same fiscal periods. Comparable sales excludes sales of restaurants that were not open during both the current and prior fiscal periods and franchisees for which we suspended corporate support. “Global system-wide restaurant sales” represents total restaurant sales for all Company-owned and franchised restaurants open during the comparable periods, and “Global system-wide restaurant sales growth (decline)” represents the change in total system restaurant sales year-over-year. Global system-wide restaurant sales and global system-wide sales growth (decline) exclude franchisees for which we suspended corporate support.
“Equivalent units” represents the number of restaurants open at the beginning of a given period, adjusted for restaurants opened, closed, acquired or sold during the period on a weighted average basis.
We believe North America, International and global restaurant and comparable sales growth (decline) and Global system-wide restaurant sales information is useful in analyzing our results since our franchisees pay royalties and marketing fund contributions that are based on a percentage of franchise sales. Comparable sales and Global system-wide restaurant sales results for restaurants operating outside of the United States are reported on a constant dollar basis, which excludes the impact of foreign currency translation. Franchise sales also generate commissary revenue in the United States and in certain international markets. Franchise restaurant and comparable sales growth information is also useful for comparison to industry trends and evaluating the strength of our brand. Management believes the presentation of franchise restaurant sales growth, excluding the impact of foreign currency, provides investors with useful information regarding underlying sales
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trends and the impact of new unit growth without being impacted by swings in the external factor of foreign currency. Franchise restaurant sales are not included in the Company’s revenues.
Year Ended
Amounts below exclude the impact of foreign currencyDecember 31, 2023December 25, 2022
Comparable sales growth (decline) (a):
Domestic Company-owned restaurants3.4 %(1.0)%
North America franchised restaurants0.1 %1.2 %
North America restaurants0.8 %0.7 %
International restaurants(3.1)%(5.3)%
Total comparable sales growth (decline)(0.1)%(0.8)%
System-wide restaurant sales growth (b):
Domestic Company-owned restaurants6.7 %1.3 %
North America franchised restaurants3.6 %2.5 %
North America restaurants4.1 %2.3 %
International restaurants (c)
7.7 %4.8 %
Total global system-wide restaurant sales growth (c)
5.0 %2.9 %
______________________________
(a)    Comparable sales growth (decline) in fiscal year 2023 includes a 52-week comparison to fiscal year 2022.
(b)    System-wide restaurant sales growth includes 53 weeks in fiscal year 2023.
(c)    The year ended December 25, 2022 excludes the impact of franchisee suspended restaurants.
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Restaurant ProgressionYear Ended
December 31, 2023December 25, 2022
North America Company-owned:
Beginning of period522 600 
Opened10 
Closed (2)— 
Acquired10 
Refranchised(4)(90)
End of period531 522 
North America franchised:
Beginning of period2,854 2,739 
Opened87 76 
Closed(33)(49)
Sold(10)(2)
Refranchised90 
End of period2,902 2,854 
International Company-owned
Beginning of period— — 
Acquired118 — 
Refranchised(1)— 
End of period117 — 
International franchised:
Beginning of period2,322 2,311 
Opened234 292 
Closed (b)
(83)(93)
Sold(118)— 
Refranchised— 
Suspended (a)
— (188)
End of period (b)
2,356 2,322 
Total restaurants – end of period5,906 5,698 
Full year net restaurant growth (a)
208 236 
______________________________
(a)    As previously disclosed, the Company has suspended corporate support for all franchised restaurants located in Russia. These suspended restaurants are excluded from net unit growth calculations.
(b)    2022 full year restaurant activity has been adjusted from previous presentations, as eight International franchised locations were reclassified as closed locations following a review of temporary restaurant closures.
Fiscal Year
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 except for the 2023 fiscal year, which consists of 53 weeks.
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Results of Operations
Revenues
The following table sets forth the various components of Revenues from the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(Dollars in thousands)December 31, 2023December 25, 2022Increase
(Decrease)
Revenues:
Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales$726,362 $708,389 2.5 %
North America franchise royalties and fees144,550 137,399 5.2 %
North America commissary revenues852,361 869,634 (2.0)%
International revenues157,187 129,903 21.0 %
Other revenues255,253 256,778 (0.6)%
Total revenues$2,135,713 $2,102,103 1.6 %
The comparability of results between 2023 and 2022 is impacted by the acquisition of 118 formerly franchised restaurants in the UK in the second and third quarters of 2023 (the “UK franchisee acquisitions”) and the refranchising of 90 restaurants during the second quarter of 2022 (the “2022 refranchising”). The UK franchisee acquisitions impact the composition of International revenues and the results of the International segment. Additionally, the 2022 refranchising resulted in 90 restaurants moving from Domestic Company-owned restaurants into North America franchising, effective as of the second quarter of 2022, impacting revenues for both of these segments. See “Note 24. Acquisitions” and “Note 22. Divestitures” of the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information on these transactions.
Additionally, results for the year ended December 31, 2023 are not directly comparable with the results for the year ended December 25, 2022, as year-over-year comparisons are affected by an additional week of operations in the fourth quarter of 2023 due to the 53-week fiscal year in 2023. The estimated impact of the Company’s 53rd week on 2023 results has been highlighted in the discussion below to enhance comparability between the periods.
Total revenues increased $33.6 million, or 1.6% to $2.14 billion for the year ended December 31, 2023, as compared to the prior year. Revenues for the 53rd week of operations in 2023 contributed approximately $41 million, or an increase of 1.9%. Other increases include a $31 million increase from our Domestic Company-owned restaurants, a $3 million increase in North America franchise royalties and a $24 million increase in International revenues primarily related to the UK franchisee acquisitions. These increases were offset by a $44 million decrease in North America commissary revenues reflecting lower commodity prices and transaction volume in 2023, a $3.4 million decrease primarily resulting from the sale of Preferred Marketing and a $17.8 million decrease resulting from the 2022 refranchising.
Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales increased $18.0 million, or 2.5% for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the prior year. The benefit of the 53rd week of operations in 2023 was approximately $14 million, and 2022 included revenues of $27.3 million from the restaurants that were part of the 2022 refranchising. Excluding the impact of the 2022 refranchising and the additional week in 2023, Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales would have increased $31 million, or 4.6%, primarily due to increased comparable sales of 3.4% and equivalent unit growth of 1.0% for the year ended December 31, 2023.
North America franchise royalties and fees increased $7.2 million, or 5.2% for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the prior year. The benefit of the 53rd week of operations in 2023 was approximately $3 million. The 2023 increase resulting from the 2022 refranchising was $1.4 million. Excluding the 2022 refranchising and the additional week, North America franchise royalties and fees would have increased approximately $3 million, or 2.0% for the year ended December 31, 2023 primarily due to positive comparable sales of 0.1%, equivalent unit growth of 2.5% and fewer royalty waivers in 2023.
North America franchise restaurant sales, excluding the impact of the 2022 refranchising, increased 3.4% to $3.09 billion ($3.03 billion on a 52-week basis) for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the 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 revenue decreased $17.3 million or 2.0% for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the prior year. The benefit from the 53rd week of operations was approximately $19 million, or 2%. The impact of the
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2022 refranchising was an increase in 2023 of $8.2 million. Excluding the impact of the 2022 refranchising and the 53rd week, North America commissary revenue decreased approximately $44 million, or a decline of 5.0% for the year ended December 31, 2023. The decline in North America commissary revenues was primarily a result of lower commodity prices, primarily poultry, cheese and wheat, in addition to lower volumes.
International revenues increased $27.3 million, or 21.0% for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the prior year. The benefit of the 53rd week of operations in 2023 was approximately $4 million. The impact of the UK franchisee acquisitions was a net increase of approximately $20.3 million in 2023, representing sales attributable to the acquired UK franchisee restaurants less prior year franchise royalty and food distribution revenue generated from the UK formerly franchised restaurants. Excluding the impact of the UK franchisee acquisitions and the additional week, revenues would have increased approximately $3 million, or 2.9% primarily due to new unit development in 2023 and positive foreign currency fluctuations. These increases were partially offset by a comparable sales decline of 3.1% in International markets.
International franchise restaurant sales increased $21.1 million to $1.19 billion ($1.16 billion on a 52-week basis) for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to $1.17 billion for the prior year. Excluding the impact of the UK franchisee acquisitions, the previously disclosed franchisee suspended restaurants, and foreign currency fluctuations, International franchise restaurant sales increased $88.3 million or 7.9% for the year ended December 31, 2023. 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 national marketing fund, online and mobile ordering business and our previously wholly-owned print and promotions subsidiary, decreased $1.5 million, or 0.6% in 2023. The benefit of the 53rd week of operations was approximately $2 million, and the impact of the UK franchisee acquisitions decreased Other revenues by $3.2 million in 2023. Excluding the impact of the UK franchisee acquisitions and the additional week, Other revenues would have been flat as increased technology services from higher comparable sales and equivalent units were offset by the sale of our previously wholly-owned print and promotions subsidiary, Preferred Marketing, in the fourth quarter of 2023. See “Note 22. Divestitures” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
Costs and Expenses
The following table sets forth the various components of Costs and expenses from the Consolidated Statements of Operations, expressed as a percentage of the associated revenue component.
(Dollars in thousands)Year Ended
December 31, 2023% of Related
Revenues
December 25, 2022% of Related
Revenues
Increase (Decrease) in % of Revenues
Costs and expenses:
Operating costs (excluding depreciation and amortization shown separately below):
Domestic Company-owned restaurant expenses$587,889 80.9 %$585,307 82.6 %(1.7)%
North America commissary expenses787,554 92.4 %811,446 93.3 %(0.9)%
International expenses103,198 65.7 %76,001 58.5 %7.2 %
Other expenses235,483 92.3 %238,810 93.0 %(0.7)%
General and administrative expenses210,357 9.8 %217,412 10.3 %(0.5)%
Depreciation and amortization64,090 3.0 %52,032 2.5 %0.5 %
Total costs and expenses1,988,571 93.1 %1,981,008 94.2 %(1.1)%
Refranchising and impairment loss— — %(12,065)(0.6)%0.6 %
Operating income$147,142 6.9 %$109,030 5.2 %1.7 %
Total costs and expenses were approximately $1.99 billion, or 93.1% of total revenues in 2023, as compared to $1.98 billion, or 94.2% of total revenues for the prior year. This decrease in total costs and expenses, as a percentage of revenues, was primarily due to the following:
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Domestic Company-owned restaurant expenses were $587.9 million, or 80.9% of related revenues in 2023, compared to expenses of $585.3 million, or 82.6% of related revenues for the prior year. The expenses, as a percentage of revenues, decreased 1.7% in 2023 primarily due to a reduction in food costs attributable to lower commodities prices.
North America commissary expenses were $787.6 million, or 92.4% of related revenues in 2023, compared to $811.4 million, or 93.3% of related revenues, for the prior year. The expenses, as a percentage of revenues, decreased 0.9% primarily due to lower commodities prices, principally related to poultry, cheese and wheat costs.
International expenses were $103.2 million, or 65.7% of related revenues, for 2023 compared to $76.0 million, or 58.5% of related revenues for the prior year. International expenses increased in 2023 as a result of the UK franchisee acquisitions, partially offset by declining commodity prices at our International commissary.
Other expenses were $235.5 million, or 92.3% of related revenues in 2023, as compared to $238.8 million, or 93.0% of related revenues for the prior year.
General and Administrative Expenses General and administrative (“G&A”) expenses were $210.4 million, or 9.8% of total revenues for 2023 compared to $217.4 million, or 10.3% of total revenues for the prior year. G&A expenses consisted of the following (in thousands):
Year Ended
December 31, 2023December 25, 2022
Administrative expenses (a)
$197,959$180,159
UK re-positioning and acquisition-related costs (b)
4,2435,112
International restructuring costs (c)
2,178
Middle East related costs (d)
868
Refranchising and impairment losses (e)
14,636
Legal settlement accruals (f)
57715,000
Other costs (g)
2,0171,507
Other general expenses, net2,515998
General and administrative expenses$210,357$217,412
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(a)    The increase in administrative expenses of $17.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to the prior year was primarily due to higher incentive compensation linked to Company performance, higher labor and benefit costs, professional fees and additional costs for our franchisee operators conference held in 2023.
(b)    Represents costs associated with repositioning the UK portfolio of $2.1 million in 2023 and $5.1 million in 2022, primarily related to lease and loan impairments and related costs. In 2023, we also incurred $2.1 million of acquisition and transition costs related to the UK franchisee acquisitions.
(c)    In the fourth quarter of 2023, the Company initiated an International restructuring plan. During the period, costs incurred related to the restructuring include $1.5 million in severance and compensation costs and $0.7 million in consulting and professional fees. See “Note 16. Restructuring” to our “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional details.
(d)    Represents a one-time non-cash charge of $0.9 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2023 related to the reserve of certain accounts receivable related to the conflict in the Middle East, which were recorded as G&A expense.
(e)    Represents a one-time non-cash charge of $14.6 million recorded in the first quarter of 2022 related to the reserve of certain loans and impairment of reacquired franchised rights related to the conflict in Ukraine and subsequent international government actions and sanctions.
(f)    Represents previously disclosed litigation recorded in General and administrative expenses. See “Note 19. Litigation, Commitments and Contingencies” to our “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.
(g)    Represents severance and related costs associated with the transition of certain executives.
Depreciation and Amortization Depreciation and amortization expense was $64.1 million, or 3.0% of revenues in 2023, as compared to $52.0 million, or 2.5% of revenues for the prior year, primarily due to an increase in capital expenditures for our technology platforms and new restaurants.
Refranchising and Impairment Loss We did not record any refranchising and impairment loss for the year ended December 31, 2023, following a $12.1 million refranchising and impairment loss in prior year. The 2022 activity was
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comprised of an $8.4 million loss on our 2022 refranchising, an impairment loss of $2.8 million for reacquired franchise rights due to the financial and operational impact of the conflict in Ukraine and lease impairment charges of $0.9 million related to the termination of a significant franchisee in the UK. See “Note 22. Divestitures” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information on the 2022 refranchising and the charge related to the conflict in Ukraine.
Operating Income by Segment
Operating income is summarized in the following table on a reporting segment basis. Adjusted operating income, a non-GAAP measure, is presented below. See “Non-GAAP Measures” for a reconciliation to the most comparable U.S. GAAP measure. We believe this non-GAAP measure is important for comparability purposes.
 (In thousands)
Year Ended December 31, 2023Year Ended December 25, 2022
Reported
(a)
Adjustments
AdjustedReported
(a)
Adjustments
AdjustedReported
Increase
(Decrease)
Adjusted
Increase
(Decrease)
Domestic Company-owned restaurants$33,470 $— $33,470 $15,966 $8,412 $24,378 $17,504 $9,092 
North America franchising133,800 — 133,800 127,882 — 127,882 5,918 5,918 
North America commissaries43,316 — 43,316 42,531 — 42,531 785 785 
International11,766 7,289 19,055 17,891 9,644 27,535 (6,125)(8,480)
All others10,116 — 10,116 10,084 — 10,084 32 32 
Unallocated corporate expenses(85,353)2,594 (82,759)(104,419)30,376 (74,043)19,066 (8,716)
Elimination of intersegment loss/(profit)27 — 27 (905)— (905)932 932 
Total$147,142 $9,883 $157,025 $109,030 $48,432 $157,462 $38,112 $(437)
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(a)    See “Non-GAAP Measures” below for a detail of the adjustments in each year and for a reconciliation to the most comparable U.S. GAAP measure.
Operating income was $147.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to $109.0 million for the prior year, an increase of $38.1 million. Adjusted operating income was $157.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to $157.5 million for the prior year, a decrease of $0.5 million, or 0.3%. The 53rd week contributed approximately $8 million to operating income in 2023. The changes in adjusted operating income compared to the prior year were primarily due to the following:
Domestic Company-owned restaurants increased $9.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2023. The 53rd week of operations contributed approximately $4 million to operating income in 2023. The impact of the 2022 refranchisi