The founder and former chairman of Papa John's, John Schnatter, has said that the pizza chain has abandoned the "conservative values" he built it on and is losing customers as a result.
The former CEO said that "truth in God, truth in unity" were the key principles on which he had previously run the company.
"We built the whole company on conservative values," he said. "If you run your life on principles you’re truthful and factual, and you have win-win mutual respect and you’re thoughtful and considerate, you’re going to win."
"I think they've really lost their way," Schnatter said. "It used to be an operational-driven company. Now it’s a lawyer, PR-driven company. They don’t run their company on principles and values."
The former CEO added that as a result, Papa John's, which rebranded as Papa Johns in 2021, is losing traffic and customers.
"I think the traffic count’s less than what it was when I was there six years ago. Over 40 percent of the stores are losing money," he said, pointing to the fact that Papa Johns was once ranked among the top pizza chains.
Schnatter Steps DownSchnatter, who is still a shareholder of the company he founded in 1984, resigned as chairman in July after it was reported that he used a racial slur on a conference call with the Laundry Service marketing firm.
He has since repeatedly insisted that he is not a racist and that the clip of the conversation was taken out of context. He has claimed that he was actually speaking out against racism during the conference call.
The company later apologized for the comments.
However, prior to his resignation, he drew criticism for comments he made regarding the National Football League (NFL) leadership and NFL players taking a knee as the national anthem was being played in 2017.