Pizza Hut is set to make millions of dollars off of Papa John's downward spiral

Hollis JohnsonPizza Hut is cashing in on Papa John’s struggles.
  • Pizza Hut’s NFL sponsorship, which it took over from Papa John’s earlier this year, is set to have a “meaningful and lasting impact” on sales, according to Peter Saleh, a BTIG analyst.
  • Papa John’s could lose an estimated $US320 million in US sales this year, a significant amount of which Pizza Hut is likely to steal.
  • Pizza Hut has so far avoided controversy with its NFL sponsorship, while Papa John’s was entrenched in scandals last year.

Pizza Hut is cashing in on Papa John’s downward spiral.

Pizza Hut’s NFL partnership, which it took over from Papa John’s earlier this year, “should have a meaningful and lasting impact on same-store sales,” Peter Saleh, a BTIG analyst, wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday.

The deal seems to be off to a strong start, improving people’s perception of Pizza Hut and customers’ response to the chain, he said.

“The commentary leads us to believe the NFL partnership is helping Pizza Hut begin to turn the corner on sales for the first time in many years,” Saleh said.

Pizza Hut is set to see a bump of another 80 to 90 basis points – almost a 1% sales jump – from Papa John’s problems, according to Saleh. BTIG estimated that Papa John’s same-store sales would decline by 7.5% this year, a $US320 million drop in US system sales. Many of those millions of dollars are likely to end up in Pizza Hut’s hands.

Pizza Hut has avoided mixing politics with football, a trap that Papa John’s fell into last year.

Papa John’s sparked backlash when John Schnatter, its founder and CEO at the time, criticised the league’s handling of players who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, and the company later ended its longtime sponsorship of the NFL. (Schnatter was ousted from Papa John’s earlier this year after using the N-word in a company conference call.)

Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s chief brand officer, said the company planned to avoid engaging in such controversy by focusing on the fans.

“If you look at how we’re approaching our partnership with the NFL, it’s very different from how our previous sponsor approached it,” Radley told Business Insider. “It’s all about the fans. We’re doing as much as we can to enhance that fan experience.”

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