- Papa John's recently hired 20,000 employees, and plans to hire an additional 10,000 team members over the next few months, according to a Monday company release.
- The pizza chain is also expanding its college tuition benefit program, called "Dough & Degrees," by partnering with Southern New Hampshire University and University of Maryland Global Campus. These schools and Purdue University Global give corporate and franchise Papa John's employees and their immediate family members access to reduced college tuition options.
- "We want to make it quick and simple for team members to join Papa John’s and immediately begin earning an income. An added benefit is access to a long-term pathway toward sustained personal and professional growth," Marvin Boakye, Papa John's chief people and diversity officer, said in the release. "COVID-19 has changed how we live, work and learn. With this significant expansion to our first-of-its-kind college tuition program, our team members will have the opportunity to earn not only a paycheck, but also a college degree."
This hiring announcement follows a 24% spike in same-store sales for Papa John's in North America during the five weeks ended June 28. The month marked the third consecutive month of double-digit sales growth in North America, Rob Lynch, Papa John's president and CEO, said in a release.
May was the chain's strongest month in company history, with North American same-store sales rising 33.5%. The month followed a previous same-store sales high of about 27% for the month of April, and Lynch said during a May earnings call with investors that roughly 10% of that increase is linked to COVID-19. The chain also captured more than 1 million new and lapsed customers on Papa John's digital channels alone in April, Lynch said.
Pizza heavyweights have seen sales gains since the start of the pandemic, thanks to diner interest in the pizza takeout and delivery categories as they acclimate to dining room closures. Domino's and Pizza Hut also recently announced that they plan to hire 10,000 and 30,000 new workers, respectively.
Pizza chains are hardly the only QSRs benefiting from COVID-19's impact on consumer behavior, however. Chipotle announced earlier this month that it will hire up to 10,000 new employees over the next few months — in addition to the 8,000 positions it's filled since May — to support its digital growth. McDonald's, Subway, Panda Express and other QSRs are also gearing up to hire thousands of employees in the near term, and restaurants overall added 1.5 million jobs in June.
Papa John's hiring capacity and strong sales growth are quite the turnaround for the brand, which not too long ago was known for executive turmoil and lackluster performance. The true test for the brand will be if it can maintain this momentum, especially because some analysts believe the tailwind pizza chains gained during the pandemic won't last.