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Sep 17, 2020

Papa John's moves further from founder with new Atlanta HQ

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY

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Papa John’s International Inc. plans to open a new headquarters in the Atlanta area, moving the company beyond its Kentucky roots after the departure of its controversial founder, John Schnatter.

The pizza delivery chain will handle functions such as marketing, human resources and “diversity, equity and inclusion” out of the new office, according to a statement Thursday. Chief Executive Officer Rob Lynch will be based in Atlanta, and the company will maintain corporate offices in Louisville and London.

The new headquarters pushes the company further -- and physically farther -- away from its founder, a fixture in the Louisville community who was once on the University of Louisville board of trustees. Papa John’s has changed its marketing and tried to overhaul its image after controversies related to Schnatter, including his use of a racial slur on a conference call, lawsuits with the company and a feud with the NFL over players’ kneeling during the U.S. anthem.

Schnatter, who for years served as the company’s CEO and chairman, has said the slur was taken out of context and that he’s the victim of a smear campaign.

Lynch joined Papa John’s last year from Arby’s, which is based in Atlanta.

Papa John’s shares fell 2.3 per cent at 9:34 a.m. in New York.