The brand is making moves to change that, though. In late June, Papa John’s announced a partnership with franchisee PJ Western Group to open 250 restaurants in Germany in the next seven years. And then on Thursday, the company revealed a deal with its largest franchisee Drake Food Service International to open more than 220 stores by 2025. That includes more than 170 restaurants across Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, where the operator already runs more than 280 units.
In recent years, Papa John’s has entered 12 new countries, like France, Spain, Tunisia, Iraq, the Netherlands, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Pakistan, and Portugal.
But Lynch said not to disregard growth happening in North America either. New franchisees are excited about Papa John’s potential for a variety of reasons, one being the lack of opportunities in other national players. He mentioned that Domino’s and Pizza Hut have many restaurants in most of their territories that are already accounted for, while Papa John’s is half as large. There’s more whitespace, which means more room for incoming operators. With current franchisees, Papa John’s is going into each of their markets and leveraging analytical tools to find opportunities and create more saturation. That in turn will reduce drive times and improve customer service.
“We think that global unit development will be the biggest driver of our overall unit development,” the CEO said. “But domestic development is absolutely accelerating, primarily with our franchisees, but we're also building some restaurants. We're going to open up some of our first company restaurants in a long time here in Q3 and we're excited about leveraging that strategy to give our franchisees insights into how they can fill in their markets in a productive and profitable way.”
At the store level, sales and customer acquisition have been driven by Papa John’s strong innovation pipeline, such as the continued incremental strength of Epic Stuffed Crust and Parmesan Crusted Papadias. To promote these products, the chain first gave access to members of the Papa Rewards loyalty program—an incentive that increased signups significantly. Papa Rewards has added nearly 500,0000 members per month since the beginning of 2021 and recently surpassed 20 million.
Third-party partnerships remain a key part of Papa John’s digital strategy, as well. In June, the brand integrated Grubhub into its system to go along with Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates. Domestic sales through these channels have lifted nearly 50 percent in the past 12 months.