Sales were way down at Papa John's outlets across the country in July—and "Papa John" himself is the reason why, the company says. President and CEO Steve Ritchie revealed Tuesday that sales were down 10.5% in July, and said "results have been challenged by recent events," CNN reports. Ritchie told analysts that "very inexcusable and irresponsible comments" from founder John Schnatter, who used the n-word in a conference call, are to blame for the decline in same-store sales and a sharply downgraded outlook for the rest of the year, reports CNBC.
The company's share price dived more than 10% in after-hours trading, but Ritchie optimistically described the turmoil as an opportunity. "I couldn't be more excited than I ever have been in my 22 years with the Papa John's brand to flip the switch and look forward, not be distracted by the words and comments of one individual, but look forward to move this brand forward," he said. Schnatter stepped down as chairman last month. He remains the company's largest shareholder, but the board has taken steps to ensure he doesn't acquire a controlling stake. (Schnatter, who is suing the company, says he has "no confidence" in the management team.)