Papa John’s

Jul 7, 2021 | Report Announcements

Papa John’s quality positioning features original crust pizza prepared with fresh dough (never frozen) and a proprietary blend of wheat flour; real cheese made from mozzarella; fresh-packed pizza sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes (not from concentrate); a proprietary mix of savory spices; and served with a container of garlic sauce for dipping & a pepperoncini pepper. Notably, the chain’s quality positioning currently facilitates higher price point promotions, supporting check. The brand’s ongoing turnaround (including the addition of Shaq as a spokesperson) has succeeded at broadening its reach with new & lapsed customers. Its repositioning also includes: menu innovation designed to drive reach into new demos and to diminish the need for discounting; digital strength (+70% mix); and efforts to increase marketing relevancy among the younger demos. A successful Papa Rewards loyalty program (20MM members up from 12MM two years ago) drives half of its 75% delivery mix, generating higher frequency and higher tickets while facilitating 1-to-1 marketing/offers, driving traffic without relying on blanket discounts across all channels. Post 2019 comps have sharply rebounded, reflecting: the brand’s repositioning strength (after the departure of the controversial founder); favorable post-lockdown positioning with its touchless delivery model and added capacity provided by its DSP partnerships; successful menu innovation and new product news which has helped with trial & check; strength in digital & loyalty which helps with reach & frequency; and a more targeted discounting strategy (1:1 as opposed to across-the-board discounting/everyday value). All this has translated into an all-time high EBITDAR margin (consistent with an all-time high AUV), helping both development prospects and unit-level valuations. If there is one chink in the armor, it maybe that Papa John’s pivot away from value could have medium to long-term implications depending on consumer strength in the new, post-lockdown world (especially when considering that pizza largely skews to a lower income demo). In conclusion, Papa John’s management team has driven a solid turnaround which amplifies its inherent strength as a well-positioned pizza delivery player in a post-lockdown world.

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