Is Herman Cain Really Such A Great Turnaround Businessman After All?

herman cain

Photo: Associated Press

Herman Cain is running for president on the idea that he is a great businessman, not a politician. Even CNN moderator John King repeatedly emphasised this point during Monday’s New Hampshire debate.But Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Cain’s dramatic story of swooping in in the mid-1980s and saving Godfather’s Pizza from financial ruin is slightly inflated, and leaves some important things out.

When he became CEO in 1984, Cain did make immediate changes. He closed 20% of the company’s restaurants, and fired between 300 and 400 people. To further save costs, he cut expensive toppings and salad bars and abolished deep dish pizza (despite his avowed preference for deep dish over thin crust pizza in Monday’s debate).

But it’s not clear, Businessweek writes, how much Cain’s cuts actually benefited the company.

While Cain regularly claims he took a business leaking $8 million annually and turned a $4 million profit two years later, those figures are not available publicly and Cain has refused to release company records from the relevant years.

What is known is that sales did not improve dramatically under his stewardship: they fluctuated between $225 million and $275 million. While in 1987 Cain predicted the chain would soon boast over 1,000 restaurants and would compete with larger companies like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, and Papa John’s, by the time he left the company in 1996 the number had dwindled to just over 500.

Businessweek writes:

“Cain says that as President, he would take the same uncompromising, sweat-the-details approach to reviving the economy and cutting federal spending. Yet it’s not at all clear that Cain’s efforts made that much of a difference in Godfather’s fortunes.”

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