Categories Consumer, Earnings Call Transcripts

Papa Johns International Inc. (PZZA) Q1 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

PZZA Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Papa Johns International Inc.  (NASDAQ: PZZA) Q1 2022 earnings call dated May. 05, 2022

Corporate Participants:

Chris Collins — Vice President, Treasury and TaxVice President, Treasury and Tax

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Eric Gonzalez — KeyBanc — Analyst

Brian Bittner — Oppenheimer — Analyst

Chris O’Cull — Stifel — Analyst

Peter Saleh — BTIG — Analyst

Lauren Silberman — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Alex Slagle — Jefferies — Analyst

Dennis Geiger — UBS — Analyst

Brian Mullan — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Brett Levy — MKM Partners — Analyst

Nick Setyan — Wedbush Securities — Analyst

Andrew Strelzik — BMO — Analyst

Todd Brooks — The Benchmark Company — Analyst

James Sanderson — Northcoast Research — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Thank you for standing by, and welcome to Papa John’s First Quarter 2022 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Chris Collins, Vice President of Treasury and Tax. Please go ahead.

Chris Collins — Vice President, Treasury and TaxVice President, Treasury and Tax

Thank you. Good morning. Joining me on the call today are President and CEO, Rob Lynch; and CFO, Ann Gugino. Rob and Ann will comment on our business and provide a financial update. After the prepared remarks, both will be available for Q&A.

Our discussion today will contain forward-looking statements involving risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements. Forward-looking statements should be considering in junction with the cautionary statements in our earnings release and the risk factors included in our SEC filings. Please refer to our earnings release and the Investor Relations section of our website for a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures discussed on this call. [Operator Instructions]

Now I’d like to turn the call over to Rob Lynch for his comments. Rob?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Chris, and welcome, everyone, to our first quarter 2022 earnings call. I’m proud to say that Papa John’s delivered another quarter of outstanding results in Q1 in spite of an unpredictable operating environment that went from one unprecedented global challenge to the next. The Papa John’s system continued to grow, lapping last year’s record Q1 sales and outperforming the pizza industry for a tenth consecutive quarter. I continue to be amazed by our team members and franchisees dedication and hard work, serving great pizza at our millions of customers worldwide. I’m grateful for their commitment to building this brand and creating the best pizza company in the world. For me, our Q1 results are a testament to the power of incredible execution winning innovation, a value-based culture and our differentiated brand.

Together, these strengths continue to fuel Papa John’s impressive sustainable growth trajectory. This morning, I’d like to discuss three key topics. First, our Q1 results and the extraordinary business environment that we are navigating. Second, Papa John’s differentiated strategy and how we’re leaning into it,to drive sustained outperformance in a constantly changing environment. And third, our outlook for the remainder of the year and beyond based on current macro trends and continued execution of our strategic plan. Ann will then provide further color on our financial results and outlook, especially on margins and the bottom line.

Beginning with our strong Q1 results. Q1 started with great momentum coming off a record fiscal 2021 and when we are already navigating a continued tight labor market and accelerating commodity inflation in the back half. In January of this year, Omicron exacerbated labor shortages across the economy, and our restaurants were at their lowest staffing levels since the beginning of the pandemic. Then in February, as Omicron decline and staffing levels began to recover to end of year levels, the conflict in Ukraine shocked the global system, triggering an acceleration in commodities and fuel inflation. By March, businesses across the industry and Globe, including Papa John’s, faced yet another new normal.

Despite these challenges, and as we’ve done since before the pandemic, Papa John’s continued to consistently grow and outperform last quarter against the challenging backdrop. In Q1, we delivered solid growth building on a record first quarter last year when we introduced our biggest innovation ever in Epic Stuffed Crust and also benefited from government stimulus programs. Global system-wide sales rose 5.3% in constant currency to $1.3 billion on top of 26.6% gains a year ago. Comparable sales were up 1.9% in North America, and up 0.8% internationally, lapping prior year gains of 26.2% and 23.2%, respectively. We achieved these results despite the challenging staffing environments in our restaurants.

I’ll elaborate on this and other key drivers in a moment. Our development program, a critical part of our growth engine, also continued its momentum, fueled by the brand’s strong AUVs and unit economics. Last quarter, we opened 62 net units worldwide. Accelerating unit growth over the past year contributed approximately half of our system-wide sales gains. I’m also proud that thanks to our strategic pricing actions and agile supply chain and disciplined financial management, we’re able to grow EPS and sequentially improve operating margins, in line with the view that we shared in February. For yet another quarter, we demonstrated how Papa John’s team members and franchisees executing our differentiated strategy are driving sustainable growth and delivering great value for our customers, franchisees and shareholders in a constantly changing world.

Now I’d like to speak to key components of our growth strategy, and how we’re addressing the opportunities and challenges in the current environment. Our multifaceted menu innovation strategy continues to be the cornerstone of our brand’s differentiated premium position and a key driver of last quarter’s continued comp sales gains against the backdrop of last year’s record sales. New York Style Crust was our big product launch in Q1, and it exceeded our expectations. It is proven to be popular and incremental, both in terms of transactions and ticket as it appeals to a distinct segment of pizza lovers who appreciate larger slices in a thinner stretched crust. We also saw continued strength from Epic Stuffed Crust for a fifth consecutive quarter despite not being on national promotion.

This demonstrates how our strategy of building new menu platforms create sustainable incremental sales layers in our business. Two weeks ago, we launched Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust, an exciting LTO, which we expect to be a big addition to our Epic platform over the summer. Pepperoni is our most popular topping. And as the name says, Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust, Hand Stuffed Pepperoni and Cheese into our fresh, never frozen original crust. The results to date are extremely promising, especially with our loyalty members. For the remainder of the year, we have a number of other significant LTO and long-term platform launches lined up as we leverage menu innovation to engage and create value for our customers, driving both long-term ticket and transaction growth. Digital innovation is another lever we are pulling to drive sustainable comp sales.

This year, we have leaned into our loyalty program, Papa Rewards, and are investing significantly in our personalized targeting capabilities to drive frequency and lifetime value with our loyal customers. We continue to actively expand the program. We promoted exclusive members-only access to Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust before its launch, successfully adding nearly 150,000 new members during the one-week early access period. As of last week, we have over 24.5 million Papa Rewards members. Also on the digital side, our deep aggregator partnerships and integrations continue to drive incremental and profitable transactions.

As we have previously discussed, aggregators provide another channel to meet our customers where they are, not to mention additional delivery capacity at peak times. Aggregator marketplaces have also become important venues for consumers to discover brands. We continue to be bullish on these growing partnerships as we execute on additional opportunities to reach new customer segments. Papa John’s premium brand positioning has been critical to the brand’s outperformance over the past 2.5 years as we have been nimble and adapted our strategy to a constantly changing environment. It’s no less important today as we adjust to a new more inflationary uncertain environment with rising costs and consumers increasingly seeking out value.

As consumer’s sentiment continues to soften, I’d point out that pizza offers tremendous value relative to other QSRs, fast casual and dining — casual dining concepts. For this reason, the segment has been historically resilient through past economic cycles. Because we invest in better fresh ingredients, toppings and dough, consumers recognize the superior value in Papa John’s pizza already. At Papa John’s, you can see the family of four a delicious premium meal with a pizza and a side for under $7 per person. Papa Rewards is also a very important tool using to target more price-sensitive customers with high-value promotions. At the same time, we will continue our successful strategy of letting our customers, especially those who are less price sensitive, to self-select into our premium priced innovation.

All of that being said, with this unprecedented inflation, we have begun to take some pricing. This has helped offset higher food, labor and fuel costs in our supply chain and restaurants. As I’ve said before, unlike most of the QSR industry, where ticket growth over the past couple of years has largely come from pricing, Papa John’s ticket growth has predominantly come through new premium products and add-ons. This has afforded us more room to strategically raise prices in this inflationary environment. Furthermore, Papa John’s has unique pricing flexibility given our value proposition is focused on delivering premium value, not hitting specific low price points.

Last quarter, we were able to successfully raise prices by approximately 7% on average in our corporate stores to offset inflation in our food basket. This contributed to higher ticket as did the continued mix benefits of premium innovation like New York Stuffed Crust. While higher pricing marginally impacted transactions last quarter, we will continue to pursue a balanced approach weighing short-term margin optimization against the retention of the significant customer base and momentum that we have built over the past two years, which is key to our brand’s long-term success. Overall, I feel we are in a good spot today and well positioned to sustainably grow ticket and transactions through innovation while using our pricing power to manage margins over the long term.

Now I’d like to comment on staffing and operations. Of course, we could never have achieved last quarter’s solid results without the tremendous hard work and commitment of our team members and franchisees. That said, staffing is always a challenge in our industry and continues to be so. In addition to our integrations with the aggregator marketplaces, our nationwide integrations with Delivery-as-a-Service providers have been a key tool allowing us to continue to serve our customers during peak times. Though these Delivery-as-a-Service transactions are slightly lower margin versus our — using our own drivers, they are incremental, profitable orders that otherwise may have gone unfulfilled.

Papa Call, our centralized order taking and customer service center is another example of our long-term investment to make our team members productive and help them focus on making and delivering great pizza. We will continue to invest capital in technology innovations that can make our teams more productive. Looking ahead, we remain focused on continuing to hire great employees and reducing turnover by providing competitive compensation, a great working environment and benefits and compelling career paths. Our goal is to be the employer of choice in our industry, and we’ve taken many actions to create a strong culture and support our people.

Earlier this week, we released our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report, outlining our progress against our priorities to create a positive impact on people, pizza and the planet that sets us up for long-term success. I’m proud to say that this year, Papa John’s is the first major publicly traded pizza chain who announce that our executive compensation plan now includes ESG metrics. We also continue to add experienced talent to our team. We’re excited to have Joe Sieve join our team this week as our new Chief Restaurant Officer. Joe brings deep experience in the pizza industry as an operator himself and as a senior brand executive as well as a QSR development leader.

We’re looking forward to accelerating the great progress we’re already making with staffing and operational excellence in our corporate and franchise restaurants with Joe’s leadership. Now turning to Papa John’s strong development results and accelerating unit growth. We are very pleased with the 62 net new units we opened in the first quarter when development is seasonally at its slowest. Last quarter, we also announced a strategic refranchising of our 51% stake in Star Papa, a 90-restaurant joint venture in Texas to Sun Holdings. This was a follow-on to the historic development deal we signed with Sun Holdings last summer for them to open 100 new restaurants across high-growth markets, primarily in Texas.

Refranchising is a very attractive strategic option for us. It allows us to attract well-capitalized, sophisticated operators and offer them the significant operational scale they need to quickly accelerate their growth in the Papa John’s system. This refranchising deal with Sun Holdings is a perfect example of this strategy. I’d now like to spend a moment discussing our international business, where Papa John’s has its biggest long-term white space and growth potential. I’m very excited that our Chief Development Officer, Amanda Clark, is expanding her role to now also lead our international operations as Chief International and Development Officer.

Working with Liz Williams, who has been promoted to Chief International Operations Officer, Amanda will enhance the integration between our North American and international businesses, which will be critical as we look to accelerate growth and create efficiencies globally. I also want to thank Jack Swaysland, our Chief Operating Officer of International, who is retiring after 16 years. Papa John’s would absolutely not be the global brand we are today without Jack’s energy, dedication and hard work. I’d like to wrap up with a few comments on Papa John’s outlook for the remainder of 2022 and the long term.

As I have discussed this morning, while the global operating environment and economy is currently volatile and challenging for many industries, I’m as confident as ever that Papa John’s is well positioned to sustain our industry outperformance in the short term, and continue moving forward to realize our full growth potential and goals for the long term. In the short term, given strategic pricing actions to offset higher commodity costs and continued innovation to engage and deliver value to our customers, — we expect North America comparable sales to be slightly positive in Q2 and to continue to be positive in the second half of 2022. For the full year, our outlook is for positive comp sales on top of a record 2021.

There’s a sign of our confidence in the resilience of our strategy and our ability to execute that this outlook is consistent with the view that we laid out last November under very different macroeconomic circumstances. Our strong unit growth results for Q1 give us even more confidence in our accelerating development outlook. As a result, we are raising our outlook for unit growth in 2022 to 280 to 320 net units from 260 to 300 previously. This is a 7% increase at the midpoint, even more significant. We are also excited to provide a new, multiyear development goal.

Based on the strong pipeline of current deals as well as new markets where we are actively in discussions, our goal is to grow global net new units by 6% to 8% annually for fiscal 2023 through 2025. We continuing the acceleration we saw in 2021 and expect in 2022. Combined with our raised 2022 outlook, this equates to a goal of 1,400 to 1,800 net new Papa John’s restaurants worldwide by the end of 2025. And this is just the beginning. Beyond this goal, fast development white space still remains for us.

I’ll now turn the call over to Ann to discuss our financial results as well as provide some more color on our outlook. Ann?

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Rob, and good morning, everyone. Papa John’s began 2022 solidly. While navigating significant headwinds, we continued our outperformance and grew on top of last year’s record first quarter. In addition to sustaining our top line growth and the brand’s strong momentum, we’ve also taken decisive steps to protect our margins and earnings in the face of increasing inflation, as I’ll discuss in more detail this morning. Beginning with our P&L. For the quarter, system-wide sales were up 5.3%, excluding FX. Accelerating net unit growth contributed approximately half of our systems global growth in addition to solid sustained comp sales. In North America, comp sales were up 2.8% across franchise restaurants and down 1.2% in company-owned restaurants.

The difference largely reflects localized differences in the economy and labor market exacerbated during the Omicron wave in January. In markets with both franchised and company-owned stores, we saw similar performance. International comps were up 0.8% this quarter, reflecting solid performance in Asia and Latin America. This was partially offset by softer results in Europe related to regional short-term supply chain and inflation headwinds. The impact was strongest in the U.K., which is our largest international market, and where we also own and operate the commissary. Consolidated revenue rose 6% to $542.7 million, driven by positive comp sales and unit growth as well as higher commissary revenues tied to higher commodity costs.

Turning to margins. Q1 2022 operating income on a GAAP basis was $14.4 million net of $30.8 million in pre-tax special items. These included: first, a one-time non-cash charge of $8.4 million associated with the strategic refranchising of our interest in the Star Papa JV to Sun Holdings; second, a $17.4 million in one-time non-cash impairment expenses related to the conflict in Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions; and third, a $5 million charge for a legal settlement. These results compare to GAAP operating income of $46.9 million a year ago, which included $3.9 million of special items related to the company’s strategic reorganization.

Excluding these items, adjusted operating income for the quarter was $45.2 million compared to $50.7 million a year ago. Q1 adjusted operating margins were up sequentially from Q4 to 8.3%, but below our record 9.9% margins a year ago. I am proud that these results are in line with the outlook we provided in February in a less challenging commodity environment before the uptick in inflation we saw in March. The year-over-year change in margins was driven primarily by the domestic company-owned restaurant segment, which were impacted by a 15% increase in food basket costs year-over-year.

Labor costs, including those associated with increased third-party delivery usage, were also up in the quarter. Together, these factors represented approximately 600 basis points of headwind for segment margins year-over-year. On a consolidated basis, these factors were an approximate 200-basis-point drag on Q1 corporate operating margins. Strategic pricing actions successfully mitigated the impact of inflation on a per transaction level, but we also saw a reduced fixed cost coverage given the modest decline in transactions. I want to reiterate Rob’s point made earlier. When it comes to pricing, we are committed to taking a balanced approach. We will surgically use pricing to manage the short-term margin impact of higher commodity costs while being mindful of retaining the strong customer base and momentum we’ve built over the past two years. Commissary revenues rose 13% in Q1, driven by higher commodity and labor costs.

As a reminder, our commissary arrangement with North American franchisees, generally speaking, passes through food, fuel and labor costs on a cost plus fixed-percentage margin basis. This means that rising commodity costs are slightly accretive to commissary operating income, but dilutive to consolidated operating margins. This quarter, this factor negatively impacted consolidated adjusted operating margins by approximately 35 basis points. Continuing to earnings. For the quarter, on a GAAP basis, earnings per diluted share were $0.29 versus $0.82 in the prior year period, including $0.66 and $0.09 in special items this year versus last.

Excluding these special items, Q1 adjusted earnings per diluted share rose to $0.95 from $0.91 a year ago, primarily reflecting the positive impact of last year’s investment to repurchase and convert the Series B convertible preferred shares as well as the excess tax benefit from vesting of equity awards, partially offset by lower operating income and higher interest expense this quarter. Now turning to cash flow and the balance sheet. Cash flow from operations was $25.4 million in Q1 compared to $63.2 million in the prior year period, reflecting unfavorable working capital changes, primarily due to timing of interest payments and franchise royalties. As we announced last quarter, we continue to scale our investments in high-return growth opportunities in line with our strong outlook.

Capital expenditures were $10.2 million, up from $7.1 million a year ago. Reflecting lower timing-related cash flow from operations, as I just discussed, free cash flow for the quarter was $15.2 million compared to $52.7 million in 2021. We ended the quarter with strong liquidity, over $545 million in cash and borrowing available under our revolving credit facility and continue to have a conservative gross leverage ratio of 2.2 times. We also continued to return significant cash to our shareholders. We repurchased $32.7 million in shares, with an additional $23 million repurchased after the quarter as of April 29. In total, we have repurchased over 0.5 million shares since the beginning of the year. We also paid out $12.6 million in common dividends during the quarter.

I’m so proud of our team. In a constantly changing environment, Papa John’s continues to deliver solid operational and financial results. Now to expand on Rob’s comments about our outlook. Coming off positive top line performance in Q1 against record prior year comps, we continue to have a positive outlook for the remainder of 2022, as Rob outlined. With the launch of Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust, modest price increases and a continued focus on delivering innovation and value to our customers, we expect Q2 North America comp sales to be slightly positive and continue to be positive in the second half of the year. As for international, we expect Q2 comp sales to reflect continued softness in the U.K. related to the regional headwinds we saw accelerate in March, which are expected to impact the full quarter.

Our current outlook for the food basket is for costs to be modestly higher in Q2, reflecting the full impact of March’s acceleration of inflation and rise 12% to 14% for the full year. Based on this outlook, we expect adjusted operating margins in Q2 to decline sequentially, in line with higher anticipated food costs for the quarter and recover sequentially in the second half of the year. For the full year, we currently expect operating margins in line with Q1. We continue to target fiscal 2022 capex of between $75 million and $85 million as we invest in technology innovation and the development of new company stores.

Full year net interest expense is expected to be between $23 million and $25 million based on moderately higher borrowings to invest in growth and return cash to shareholders as we laid out last quarter. We expect the tax rate for the remaining quarters to range between 20% and 22% and for the full year to be between 18% and 20%. To wrap up my comments, I’d like to zoom out beyond short-term headwinds and reiterate Papa John’s long-term opportunity, which is to drive steady earnings expansion by sustainably outperforming in an attractive global market that offers significant white space.

As we’ve discussed on this call and previous ones, we continue to demonstrate that Papa John’s has built a model based on our differentiated positioning, winning innovation and compelling value proposition for sustainable comp sales growth. With strong AUVs and a robust pipeline, our development outlook has never been stronger as confirmed by our raised 2022 outlook for 280 to 320 net new units and our new multiyear outlook for 6% to 8% growth through 2025. Papa John’s long-term potential is very exciting.

I’ll now turn the call back over to Rob for some final comments. Rob?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ann. Since its founding, Papa John’s has been the better ingredients, better pizza company. 2.5 years ago, we laid out our purpose, values and strategic priorities, which have sparked an incredible transformation of our company. Today, in a very different world, Papa John’s differentiated positioning, innovation culture and focused strategy are still the secret sauce driving our outperformance and long-term outlook. As we have done for the past 2.5 years, we will continue to carefully manage short-term opportunities and challenges, always with an eye toward the brand’s long-term potential. Today, our system is healthy and strong, and I’m more confident than ever about the future. As always, I’d like to thank our shareholders and everyone on this call for their interest in our company and for their continued support.

With that, I’ll turn the call over to the operator for Q&A.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Eric Gonzalez with KeyBanc. You may proceed with your first.

Eric Gonzalez — KeyBanc — Analyst

Hey, thanks for the question. Robert, I want to talk about labor availability for a second. More than one of your competitors has called out driver shortages, and I think we’re also hearing it from the ridesharing companies and the third-party delivery aggregators. In your opinion, has the issue gotten worse in the last several weeks. Clearly, Papa John’s being the only large chain to really embrace the third-party order fulfillment has had a competitive advantage in its ability to satisfy demand. But I’m wondering if even the third-party channel is becoming a less reliable solution, if there aren’t enough gig workers to supplement the first-party network? And maybe if you could touch on how that third-party mix, whether it’s Delivery-as-a-Service or the marketplace orders, how that mix has trended over time?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks for the question, Eric. I would tell you that our staffing, in particular, our driver staffing has been a challenge for us for over a year now. Omicron, in January, exacerbated that challenge more so than we had ever experienced it. But I would tell you right now, we feel pretty good about staffing. We feel like our investment in productivity tools for all of our employees, both our inside employees as well as our drivers, and our partnerships with the aggregators, both on the marketplace side as well as the Driver-as-a-Service have afforded us what we need to meet the needs of our customers. Do we think that our comps could be even higher if we had more staffing? Absolutely. Do we think that we’re going to be unable to deliver on what we have laid out here as a result of staffing?

No, we don’t. We are confident in our ability to take care of our customers. And I could tell you, one of the things — as we thought a lot about this is I’ve read the competitors’ notes the last week or so, our model is a little different. Our premium positioning is a different model than the folks who are talking about staffing such a challenge. I mean their staffing challenges are exacerbated because their model is low price, more transactions. We’re premium priced. We don’t need quite as many transactions, and therefore, we’re less impacted by the staffing challenges that we’re all seeing. So I hope that gives you confidence in our ability to continue to staff our restaurants and continue to meet the needs of our customers.

Eric Gonzalez — KeyBanc — Analyst

Thanks. That’s a really good point. Thanks.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Eric.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Brian Bittner with Oppenheimer. You may proceed with your question.

Brian Bittner — Oppenheimer — Analyst

Thanks. Good morning. Congratulations on impressive results and outlook in this obviously difficult operating environment. Ann, I wanted to go back to your comments, your margin commentary suggested for the full year, still pretty strong margins given the inflation, but maybe 50 basis points lower than what your previous outlook was? If you could just maybe confirm that. More importantly, the question is, do you still believe, despite the inflation, that you have the tools to drive the EPS growth of the company in this kind of mid- to high single-digit range that you laid out last quarter?

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So you’re getting the numbers right as you recap them for me. So certainly, we’re very pleased with our margin performance in the quarter, and the fact that we were able to deliver those results in line with the outlook we provided in February before the increase in the commodity environment that we saw in March. So you are getting kind of the numbers right in terms of the pressure that we’re seeing. So looking forward, that incremental headwind, we are calling the margins down slightly versus prior year. So that 50 basis points is in the right neighborhood.

In terms of EPS growth, we do have the step-up in interest expense because of the refinancing, which gives us great optionality and flexibility and it’s at a great rate, particularly as we look out at the interest rate environment. But because of the unwinding of the swaps, there’s a little bit more interest rate pressure in the current year. So I do think, for the full year, our EPS will be down slightly versus prior year.

Brian Bittner — Oppenheimer — Analyst

Okay. Thank you for the color.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Chris O’Cull with Stifel. You may proceed with your question.

Chris O’Cull — Stifel — Analyst

Thanks. Rob, it’s encouraging to hear that you expect second quarter comps to be slightly positive. We’ve heard many peers talk about a weak start to the second quarter. So I was just wondering if your guidance assumes comps will improve through the second quarter? Or is the system kind of running at this level today?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

So what I would tell you is that April was a challenging month in terms of the business environment in general, both on the cost side and the comp side. But I highlighted in the — in our notes that the launch of Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust has gone extremely well. And it gives us a ton of confidence in our ability to guide to positive comps in Q2.

Chris O’Cull — Stifel — Analyst

Great. And then several competitors haven’t been utilizing the 3P Drivers-as-a-Service as kind of a release valve, I guess, when they’re struggling to meet demand. How much has that helped Papa John’s keep up with demand this quarter?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

It’s helped a lot. It has helped significantly. January was the most difficult operating environment I’ve ever — I’ve seen since I’ve been in this industry. We had — for the first time, we had multiple members — team members in almost every restaurant out at the same time, which created a real challenge for us to be able to meet the demand that was on the business. If you recall, I mean, that’s when we launched New York Style, we had a lot of demand, and it was really challenging. And so we leaned heavily into our partnership with DoorDash, particularly on the Delivery-as-a-Service side. And it was — it saved us. And so as a team, we look back on the decision three years ago to make the investment in fully integrating with DoorDash and the Delivery-as-a-Service capability as one of very pivotal decisions that we’ve made as a team. It is absolutely — no one expected or foresaw the staffing challenges that we’re going to have over the next three years. That decision has definitely helped us to outperform.

Chris O’Cull — Stifel — Analyst

Great. Thanks.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Peter Saleh with BTIG. You may proceed with your question.

Peter Saleh — BTIG — Analyst

Great, thanks and appreciate all the color on the call. Rob, you guys picked up a little bit the development guidance for this year and stated for 23% to 25%, 6% to 8%. Can you give us a little bit of a sense on how that breaks out, especially in the out years in terms of development between domestic and international development?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I mean — Pete, this year, we’re targeting — our midpoint is right at 300 and about of that, a little more than 2/3 of that are going to be international. And we don’t see that ratio changing dramatically in the out years. International, obviously, is where most of the white space is. But we are building momentum domestically as well. So the growth rates on both of those businesses will be comparable, but the absolute number of domestic units opening is always going to be in that, call it, 25% to 35% of the total is kind of what we’re projecting.

Peter Saleh — BTIG — Analyst

Great. And then I think you guys mentioned Papa Call. Can you give us an update on where you stand with Papa Call? How many stores and the benefit that you may have seen from that call center in the quarter?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So all of our company restaurants are on Papa Call. And as a domestic system, a little more than half of our total restaurants are on Papa Call. And we anticipate that number continuing to go up. As highlighted on this call, and the competitor’s call over the last week, staffing continues to be a challenge. And as we continue to invest in tools to increase productivity in our restaurants, and as labor becomes more expensive, those tools become more valuable. So our goal is for our entire system to be on Papa Call at some point. So it’s definitely a tool that’s helping our restaurants operate at a higher level of productivity.

Peter Saleh — BTIG — Analyst

Great. Thank you very much.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Lauren Silberman with Credit Suisse. You may proceed with your question.

Lauren Silberman — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Thank you very much. I wanted to ask about price. I think you said you took 7% in corporate stores during the quarter. When did you take the price? And how does that compare to what franchisees are running? And then I think you had mentioned the price increase marginally impacted transactions. Can you just sort of contextualize how the elasticity, the price compares to what you’ve seen historically?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Lauren. Franchisees got out in front of pricing a little bit faster than we did. That’s in part explanation for why we saw some disparity in their comps in the back half of last year relative to our comps and even into Q1. But, at this point, I think our price increases are pretty comparable to the same rate as where franchisees are. We’re seeing about the same rate of growth there. And then the second part of your question, can you remind me with the second part of your question was?

Lauren Silberman — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Yes, exactly

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

We are seeing a little bit of a change in the curves. We’ve spent a lot of time recently over the last year building out our revenue management capability. And so we have a ton of data, as you know, given our e-commerce model. So we track every transaction, and we’re able to really leverage all that data to build a very high-level analytical tool in our revenue management capability to understand elasticity at the market level, even down to the store level. And we are seeing that curve get a little bit — we have seen that curve get a little bit steeper over — in 2022 than it was in 2021, I think, pretty consistent with the changes in consumer sentiment and some of the other macroeconomic dynamics.

Lauren Silberman — Credit Suisse — Analyst

Thank you very much.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Got it.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Alex Slagle with Jefferies. You may proceed with your question.

Alex Slagle — Jefferies — Analyst

Hey, good morning. Congrats. I just wanted to follow up and get your views on consumer sentiment and any potential changes. You’re seeing the lower-income consumer habits, if you have ways to slice and dice your consumer and transaction data that you have a lot of it and look at frequency and check dynamics and maybe even revisit and how much the trends have been impacted by stimulus in the past?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Alex, I think the stimulus did have an — obviously have an impact in Q1 last year. We’re up over 26% last year in Q1. So that — a lot — some of that obviously was our innovation when we launched Epic Stuffed Crust, but there was definitely some tailwinds there. As we look at this quarter and into Q2 though, I will tell you, both of our innovations that we’ve launched this year have been premium-priced innovations. New York Style was at $13 and Epic Pepperoni is at $14. Those are both higher price points than our average price per pie in our business. So — and we’re seeing great pickup on those products.

So we have not seen a transfer into the value segment of our menu. We’re still seeing strong adoption of our premium priced innovation. That being said, we are making a concerted effort primarily through our loyalty program to deliver targeted value propositions to what we have identified as our most value-sensitive customers. So we do use that data to segment our customers based on their price sensitivity. And we are being pretty surgical and making sure that we’re still giving incentive to the more price-conscious customers to come back more often.

Alex Slagle — Jefferies — Analyst

That’s helpful. Thank you.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Got it.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Dennis Geiger with UBS. You may proceed with your question.

Dennis Geiger — UBS — Analyst

Great, thank you. I wanted to ask, Rob, about the category looking ahead. It sounds like you’re pretty positive on the category as things stand today and even if consumer spending rolls over, just the value in the category, it seems like you kind of view that favorably. I’m curious if any change in kind of how you see the category this year now versus a few months back or six months back, let’s say.

And I guess, more importantly, as you think about category share gain, given what we’ve seen from you folks over the last several years, but given the new product lineup that — pipeline that you have, the third-party aggregator working and all the work you’ve done with the brand, how you think about category gains from here? Can we continue to see gains given the multiyear gains that we’ve already seen from a share perspective? Just curious if you could kind of provide some context around that?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Great questions, Dennis. I don’t know if we are here at Papa John’s or just like perennial optimist or what, but there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there right now. Obviously, there’s a lot of changes happening, both in the economy as well as the geopolitical environment. But we are bullish. We feel great about the model that we’ve built over the last couple of years. We feel like there’s a lot of demand out there for our products and for the category. And so we’re continuing to invest. We’ve invested more capital over the last six months than we’ve invested ever before. We’re continuing to double down on our innovation. As I highlighted in the call, we’ve got more big products coming throughout the balance of the year.

So we do see a lot of upside left in this category. And obviously, we’re not naive. The inflationary environment that we’re all dealing with definitely challenges the bottom line. But we just lapped a 26.2% with — positively in one of the most challenging operating environments that we’ve ever operated in. So we are bullish on the category. In terms of share, we’ve taken some share over the last 10 quarters with 10 straight quarters outperformance. We don’t see any reason why that’s not going to continue. We have a lot of respect for our competitors, but we do feel like we’ve built a model that differentiates us and it’s going to afford us more flexibility as we go into some of these more cyclical economic situations to take pricing as well as to continue to innovate and take more share.

So that’s how we’re thinking about it. And then lastly, I would tell you, Dennis, our unit growth is accelerating. And so part of the share in this category, obviously driven by comp sales. But just as much of the share is driven by development. And we are accelerating both our domestic development as well as our international development. So we think there’s a lot of share for us to garner.

Dennis Geiger — UBS — Analyst

That’s great. And if I could ask just a quick follow-up. Just on the operations and staffing drivers, you spoke to it quite a bit already. But just as far as anything specific from here, that you folks feel maybe you need to do? Are you in a good enough place where you don’t have to sort of turn the model or kind of how you look at hiring as a system upside down? Or are there bigger changes needed from a staffing driver perspective, be that wages, total compensation or otherwise to address the challenge if you have any thoughts there?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

You’re welcome. We’re in a better place today than we were last month and a much better place than we were four months ago from a staffing standpoint. That being said, we’re still not in an ideal place. So we’re not necessarily turning everything upside down. But what I will tell you is we are investing in technology, both to help recruit and retain employees, primarily drivers. We’ve invested a lot in applications that are going to help our drivers become more efficient and make more money as a result of that efficiency. So more to come on that as we get further down the path. But our plan is to leverage technology to help our drivers make more money, which will then increase the rate at which we can retain them.

Dennis Geiger — UBS — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Brian Mullan with Deutsche Bank. You may proceed with your question.

Brian Mullan — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Thank you. Rob, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how other large pizza competitors potentially partnering in a bigger way with the aggregators could impact your business going forward, if at all, specifically, just curious around competition for your brand placement in those marketplaces and if there would be anything you could do in response? And I don’t mean to insinuate in any way that the stealing source of your success to the country. You’re firing on all cylinders clearly. But just curious to your thoughts because these are large competitors, it seems like a dynamic situation that could be changing.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

No, it’s a great question, Brian, that we think about on a regular basis. Papa John’s was the first brand to launch online ordering over 20 years ago. And now everybody obviously has online ordering. I mean we pride ourselves in the decisions we’ve made to move in the direction we’ve moved. And I think it’s a big part of why we have gotten — why we’ve delivered outperformance. I never understood why some of these brands weren’t doing what we were doing. If they make that decision to change their strategy, we just got to stay focused on staying out in front.

We’ve got a three-year head start. We’ve learned a lot about how to work most effectively and productively with these aggregators. It’s not a perfect relationship. There were some bumps along the way that we had to work collaboratively with them to iron out to get to an operating model and a customer service level that allows us to continue to leverage it at the scale that we do. So I think we’ve got a head start. I think we’ve got a great partnership with all of the aggregators, and we need to continue to invest in those partnerships to stay out in front of the competition.

Brian Mullan — Deutsche Bank — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Brett Levy with MKM Partners. You may proceed with your question. Your line is now open, Brett.

Brett Levy — MKM Partners — Analyst

It would help if I didn’t hit me. Just a couple of little taking back and then a strategic one. Would you be willing to share any color in terms of what percentage of your transactions are coming from your partnership with the aggregators and non-Papa John’s drivers? In addition to that, could you share any color on — any more incrementality on — from a health of the consumer basis, what you’re seeing in terms of kick up and tick up — kick up or tick down and check add-ons, just numbers of items per transaction? And then just with respect to your technology, what kind of incrementality should we expect over the rest of ’22 and into ’23? And what kind of productivity enhancements do you think you can generate?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

So Brett, unfortunately, we feel like that the disclosure of some of those data points would be revealing some of our business to our competitors. So we’re not disclosing what percentage of our business are aggregators or how the composition of our check and transactions are in detail. So I apologize that we’re not going to share that. What I will tell you is that, looking forward, we need to find the right balance of pricing and productivity to get us through these challenging, hyperinflationary times. And we’re investing in technology to drive both of those, frankly.

Our revenue management capability continues to get better, to get smarter, allowing us to be more surgical with our pricing decisions. We’re working to, not just at the macro level, but to build out the capabilities such that we can help our franchisees with their pricing decisions and not just at the DMA or regional level, but at the store level. So we’re going to get better and better at pricing. We haven’t taken a lot of pricing over the last few years.

So we’re kind of sharpening that skill set as we speak, and we think there’s a lot of value to be had there. And then on the productivity side, as I just mentioned, we’re investing in technology to help our drivers be more efficient and more productive, not necessarily from like a labor savings standpoint, but from a, the more deliveries, the more productive they are, the more efficient they are, the more deliveries they can make, the more time they spend on the road, the more money they make. So we are investing a significant amount of capital into technology solutions that are going to help us to retain more drivers by allowing them to make more money. So that’s our strategy.

Brett Levy — MKM Partners — Analyst

I had to try on the granular question.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

No, I respect it. I really do. It’s — these are — it’s interesting times. The business model for us has continued to evolve over the last three years. And I’ve just blown away by our team’s capability to continue to adjust on the fly to meet the challenges that we face or take advantage of the opportunities. And so we’re were going to continue to be flexible. Who knows what’s right around the corner these days. And I think we’ve proven, our team has proven that they can persevere through these challenging times.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Nick Setyan with Wedbush Securities. You may proceed with your question.

Nick Setyan — Wedbush Securities — Analyst

Thank you. I just wanted to revisit some of the international commentary. I think you said you expect some softness to continue. Is there any way to quantify that in terms of comp like you did with North America? And then just when you kind of think about the acceleration in unit growth from the international side, what market is that acceleration coming from? And where do you continue to see strength?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Our international businesses continues to become a bigger part of our holistic business. And as we continue to build 300, 400-plus restaurants internationally per year, that’s going to mean that we have to have a solid foundation for that part of our growth strategy. And right now, we’ve got — it’s 50 different markets. All of them have different dynamics going on. But what I will call out is we have some really strong markets right now. Latin America, the Middle East are great markets for us. Our biggest market internationally is the U.K. The U.K. is coming off a plus 40 last year. And so we’re seeing some real challenges there with some of the changes there.

And I think their economy is being challenged right now by some of the same things that obviously the U.S. is. And we — one of the reasons for us to make the changes that we made in the international team, obviously, Jack retiring kind of triggered it, but we feel like we’ve got a lot of tools here in the U.S. that could really benefit the U.K. and the rest of our international markets. And we probably — and I take accountability for this. We probably haven’t been as good about sharing those tools across the globe.

And so the change that we announced this week with Amanda taking over is really all about creating more collaboration between our U.S. business, which we’ve developed a lot of productivity capabilities, and our international businesses so we can affect the types of things that we’re doing here in the U.S. and bring those to the rest of the globe. So I do see a lot of strength in our international markets. They’re really kind of — that comp is depressed by one market, which is the U.K., and we’re very focused on the challenges that we’re facing there and rectifying that situation here in the near future.

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I think the only color on that quantitatively, while we do feel like Q2, we called out some pressure in my comments. For the full year, we do expect to be slightly positive, similar to the U.S. for the year in comp sales. And then you add that with the unit growth, like Rob talked about, and our international business will have system-wide sales growth in the high single digits, low double digits.

Nick Setyan — Wedbush Securities — Analyst

Got it. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Andrew Strelzik with BMO. You may proceed with your question.

Andrew Strelzik — BMO — Analyst

Thanks for taking the question. I wanted to dig in a little bit on expectation for the margin recovery in the back half of the year relative to the second quarter and maybe some of that has to do with what you just touched on internationally, but I’m just interested in the drivers there. Is that food inflation cadence, U.K. recoveries or something on pricing or something else? And just how much visibility or confidence do you have in that outlook in the margin trajectory? Thanks.

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So I’ll start by saying when you talk about the level of confidence, a lot can change in 90 days as we just saw. So given where we are today, and the outlook based on the intelligence that we have, it’s a little bit of all three things that you mentioned. So we do expect — we called out 15% food cost inflation in Q1, but 12% to 14% for the full year. So we are expecting some relief in the back half of the year, particularly in cheese. So there is some release in food cost. I think the other thing that Rob talked about in his script is just our continued excitement about menu innovation. And so we expect that to continue to drive the comp sales. So I would point to those kind of two drivers as well as the international commentary that we just had is kind of the main reasons that we’re optimistic about margin improvement sequentially in the second half of the year.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

And potentially a little bit of pricing. We — as I mentioned, we can — we feel really good about our ability to take the right amount of price without significantly impacting transactions. So those three things.

Andrew Strelzik — BMO — Analyst

Great. Thank you very much.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Todd Brooks with the Benchmark Company. You may proceed with your question.

Todd Brooks — The Benchmark Company — Analyst

Hey, good morning. Thanks for the questions. One, following up on Lauren’s question, did you answer the question on the timing of when you took the 7% price increase in the quarter?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

So we began taking pricing really in Q4 of last year as we started seeing the inflationary pressure. We accelerated that in Q1. And it really has been — most of that came in the first six weeks of Q1. So — and we haven’t really taken a lot of pricing here in the last 12 weeks as we’ve kind of continued to see the business pick up and see the impact of the pricing flow through the P&L.

Todd Brooks — The Benchmark Company — Analyst

That’s helpful. And then, Rob, you talked about just some signs of elasticity. I’m just wondering how it’s manifesting itself? Is it in attach to things like Papadia, which really works well as an attachment to an order. Do you see those dropping out of orders as design elasticity? Or is it more purely on kind of frequency of order?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. It’s just transactions. Our orders — items per order and our tickets have all been very strong. So it really is just some transaction softness, and it’s in that frequency line. We don’t — we haven’t — as we’ve called out, we’ve actually increased our loyalty program pretty dramatically already this year. So it’s not like we’re losing our most valuable customers. It just has been a little bit of frequency driving some transactions of this…

Todd Brooks — The Benchmark Company — Analyst

And then finally, you’ve talked about personalized offers through the loyalty program as a way to maybe reactivate the more value oriented customer. Can you talk to early success? I mean you talked about identifying this elasticity. Is that tool working? Or do you pick the frequency up fairly quickly? Just trying to point to how effective personalization these offers are to reactivate somebody that’s more value-centric?

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I mean — you got it. We’ve been very happy with the response to the loyalty program offers that we put out there. As I mentioned, it’s kind of a holistic strategy. It’s not just sending coupons, although those offers are part of it. It really is about engaging them and making sure that they continue to think of Papa John’s when they think about ordering pizza. And so, as we mentioned, we picked up 150,000 new customers just from offering Epic Pepperoni exclusively to our loyalty members. So things like that are really helping to bring in new loyalty members, and then we leverage their purchase data. And it takes a little bit of time to get a real good sense of what they’re going to purchase. It doesn’t happen right out of the gate, purchase cycle is like once every few months. So as we continue to bring in those customers and learn what their behaviors are and their purchase habits are, we’ll continue to refine that model. And get better at it.

Todd Brooks — The Benchmark Company — Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from James Sanderson with Northcoast research. You may proceed with your question.

James Sanderson — Northcoast Research — Analyst

Hey, thanks for the question. I just wanted to follow up a little bit on the commentary about driving steady earnings long term. I wanted to talk a little bit about how you see G&A or overhead spending if that line item is going to be managed to really lag revenue growth? Or if you really foresee having to step up that investment to support the acceleration in unit growth, if that line item is going to slowly contribute to the margin expansion going forward?

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Yes, we absolutely believe it will be a contributor to the margin expansion going forward. So one of the things that we’ve been doing over the last couple of years is really investing in our development capabilities, investing in technology in different areas for growth. But at the same time, it’s driving the sales growth. And so we are able to grow it slower than the top line and create leverage. Even in the current quarter, we did see — if you take out the special items, our G&A was flat year-over-year, and we got about 10 basis points of improvement relative to systemwide sales. So we are going to continue to challenge ourselves to find ways to be more efficient and productive and would expect that to be a driver for margin expansion in the future.

James Sanderson — Northcoast Research — Analyst

Okay. And just to follow up a little bit. Should we expect that basis point improvement should that continue to grow over time? Is that the right way to look at it?

Ann Gugino — Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

James Sanderson — Northcoast Research — Analyst

All right. Thank you.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jim.

Operator

Thank you. And I’m not showing any further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back over to Rob Lynch for any further remarks.

Robert Lynch — President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, thanks again to everyone for joining us and for your questions this morning. We hope that you’re as excited about the future of Papa John’s as we are. Thanks to our terrific team members and our franchisees, we continue to deliver solid results and industry outperformance. As excited as I am about 2022, I’m even more excited about the long-term potential that we’re building for this company. We look forward to reporting back to you on our continued momentum and outlook. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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