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Papa John’s international president abruptly leaves

Timothy O’Hern is leaving the company “effective immediately.”
Photograph: Shutterstock

Timothy O’Hern, Papa John’s president of international and chief development officer, is retiring from the company “effective immediately,” according to a federal securities filing Wednesday.

The Louisville, Ky.-based pizza chain said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Joe Smith, chief financial officer, will oversee development and global sales.  

Smith had been the company’s senior vice president, global sales and development from 2016 through 2018 before he was named CFO in April.

Jack Swaysland, who has been chief operating officer, international since May, will take over full responsibility for the international business.   

O’Hern had been with Papa John’s for more than two decades and is still a nine-unit franchisee of the company. He had been the chief development officer from 2012 through May of this year, when he was given oversight of Papa John’s international efforts. He has been a franchisee since 1993 and joined the company as construction manager in 1995.

Reasons for his departure are uncertain.

But the resignation comes amid an unprecedented upheaval at the chain following comments by the company’s founder, John Schnatter, including an admission last month that he had used a racial slur during a conference call. Schnatter in the weeks since has been battling the company where he was once chairman, CEO and primary spokesman.

In addition, the company is conducting an independent investigation of its culture and diversity following reports of a toxic “bro culture” at the company under Schnatter and CEO Steve Ritchie.

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