Papa John’s is crediting its first-quarter sales boom to its new stuffed crust pizza.
The quick-service chain released its Epic Stuffed Crust pizza nationwide on Dec. 28, 2020, and Papa John’s said this "menu innovation" helped drive up its comparable sales in North America by 26.2%, according to its Q1 2021 financial results.
During the same period last year, which coincided with initial coronavirus lockdowns and pantry-loading consumer trends in the U.S., Papa John’s system-wide restaurants in North America only saw a sales increase of 5.3%.
A similar financial trend occurred in Papa John’s international restaurants with 2021 first-quarter sales having increased by 23.2% versus last year’s modest increase of 2.3%, as observed in the 47 countries the chain operates in abroad.
By the end of March 28, Papa John’s reports its consolidated first-quarter revenue for 2021 reached more than $511.7 million – roughly $101.9 million more than it saw at the end of its first quarter last year.
Aside from seeing a comparative sales boost, Papa John’s financial results state that its "successful menu innovation" and Epic Stuffed Crust pizza helped the chain expand its "customer base" at company-owned and franchised restaurants.
"Papa John’s started 2021 strongly, delivering our sixth straight quarter of industry outperformance and fourth of double-digit global sales growth," Papa John’s President & CEO Rob Lynch said, in a statement. "In addition, our unit growth accelerated, and we achieved 600 basis points of operating margin expansion, growing adjusted earnings per share 500%."
Long before Papa John’s added stuffed crust to its menu, the chain’s competitor Pizza Hut had popularized the menu item in 1995.
However, Papa John’s and other national pizza chains have been introducing similar cheese-filled pizzas and bread items in recent years, including Dominos and Little Caesars.