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Papa John’s founder John Schnatter lashes out at CEO Steve Ritchie 

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter lashes out at CEO Steve Ritchie  2

In the latest development of the current crisis facing Papa John’s, ousted founder John Schnatter on Monday made a slew of accusations against Chief Executive Officer Steve Ritchie for causing the company’s poor performance.

Those allegations, which Schnatter detailed in a letter addressed to franchisees on the website “savepapajohns.com,” blamed Ritchie for “bad financial decisions, insufficient management skills to correct them, a toxic senior management culture, and serious misconduct at the top levels of our leadership.”

“The source of the company’s poor performance is rot at the top,” Schnatter wrote.

Schnatter claimed he had discussed Ritchie’s poor performance with the company’s board, which agreed and asked the founder to become executive chairman. Then, Schnatter drew up a list of senior management that he wanted to be replaced, including Ritchie.

However, the ousted chairman claimed that Ritchie — through a subordinate who “was having an affair with someone in our IT department” — got hold of that list and engineered Schnatter’s departure instead.

The company founder also claimed that the Papa John’s human resources department has “detailed evidence of sexual misconduct, harassment and intimidation by virtually everyone in (Ritchie’s) inner circle.” And, at the conclusion of his letter to franchisees, Schnatter slammed the company’s CEO as someone “out of his depth” and looking to blame others.

“Right now, he’s blaming me,” the ousted pizza magnate said to the franchisees. “Tomorrow, it might be you. It will never, however, be (Ritchie’s) responsibility.”

A Papa John’s spokeswoman said Schnatter’s claims were unfounded.

“Once again, John Schnatter is making untrue and disparaging statements in a self-serving attempt to distract from the damaging impact his own words and actions have had on the Company and our stakeholders,” the spokeswoman told CNBC in an emailed statement.

“At no time has the Board asked John Schnatter to become Executive Chairman. In fact, the company has taken multiple steps to separate itself from him. John Schnatter also publicly supported Steve Ritchie’s appointment as CEO at the end of last year,” she added.

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