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Papa Murphy’s divests Project Pie stake

Papa Murphy’s divests Project Pie stake

Company to focus on core take-and-bake brand

Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. said Monday that its second-quarter results would include a $2.7 million write-down from divesting its interest in Project Pie LLC.

The Vancouver, Wash.-based operator of the Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake pizza chain said in May that it would divest its interest in the fast-casual concept, citing its recent performance and a decision to concentrate on its core business.

“We have generated strong operating momentum over the last few years, and that has accelerated since our IPO just over a year ago,” Papa Murphy’s CEO Ken Calwell said in a statement Monday.

Papa Murphy’s same-store sales rose 5.6 percent in the first quarter ended March 30, Calwell said.

“We have a real opportunity to at least triple the number of fresh take-and-bake pizza stores that we have in the U.S., to at least 4,500 stores,” he added. “Divesting our interest in Project Pie is an important step to ensure continued focus as we bring America’s best-tasting pizza to customers across the country.”

While Calwell said he believes “there is a lot of value” in the fast-casual pizza segment, “I want to be singularly focused on delivering the tremendous growth opportunities for Papa Murphy’s business and our shareholders.”

Calwell added that the company is rolling out a new POS system to improve online ordering and digital marketing, which many pizza operators have used recently to increase business.

In 2013, Papa Murphy’s paid $2 million through Lee Equity Partners for a 26-percent interest in Project Pie. Lee took Papa Murphy’s public last year. Carlsbad, Calif.-based Project Pie had planned to grow aggressively, to as many as 300 units, by 2013.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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