Pizza Hut: NFL protests aren't impacting sales

By Food and Beverage FOXBusiness

Will NFL anthem protests hurt sponsorships, viewership?

Sports Business Journal NFL writer Dan Kaplan on anthem protests and how they will affect sponsors.

Pizza Hut’s parent company on Thursday said it hasn’t seen any correlation between the NFL’s declining viewership and its sales figures, one day after industry rival Papa John’s (PZZA) blamed the league’s poor handling of player protests for its own struggles.

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“We’re not seeing impact on any of that on our business,” Yum Brands (YUM) CEO Greg Creed told analysts on a conference call Thursday.

Creed added that live sporting events, such as NFL and MLB games, generally benefit its business. Pizza Hut, which does not sponsor the NFL, saw its same-store sales rise 1% in its most recent fiscal quarter.

The NFL is experiencing an unprecedented wave of player protests this season amid public clashes with President Donald Trump, who called on the league’s owners to fire any player who kneels during the national anthem.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter told investors on Wednesday that his company’s close relationship with the NFL has had a negative impact on its business in recent months. Papa John’s shares plunged in trading after the company reported worse-than-expected sales.

“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said. “More importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

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Papa John’s has been the official pizza of the NFL since 2010. The pizza chain also partners with 23 of the league’s 32 teams, as well as some of its most high-profile stars.

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The NFL did not comment on remarks by Papa John’s executives.

While Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut and Papa John’s have experienced slowing growth in recent quarters, Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) reported a 8% increase in same-store sales in its most recent fiscal quarter, marking its 26th straight quarter of growth.

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