Papa Murphy's CEO Resigns, Jean Birch Named as Interim CEO


Papa Murphy’s is in the midst of a management shakeup. The brand has recently struggled to get traction despite winning consumer awards for food quality. The brand’s dependence on retail collocation is a tricky one as Amazon devours retail spending and brick-and-mortar stores close. In the past year, the stock has performed poorly, sinking 59.59% since January 2016, far behind competitors Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut, performing close to Rave Restaurant Group, which has sunk 60% in the past year.

Jean Birch, chair of the board, was named interim Chief Executive Officer, bringing the number of public restaurant brands without a permanent CEO to six.

See the full press release below. 

Papa Murphy's Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRSH) today announced that, effective immediately, Chair of the Board, Jean Birch, has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer. 

This appointment follows the resignation of Ken Calwell as Chief Executive Officer and director of the Company, in order to pursue other interests.  The Board has initiated a search to identify a permanent Chief Executive Officer and will consider both internal and external candidates, and continues to search for a director to fill the seat vacated by John Barr last September. 

Ms. Birch has served as Chair of the Board since September 2016 and as a member of the Board since April 2015.  Ms. Birch has over 26 years of restaurant leadership experience, previously serving as President of IHOP Restaurants, Inc., President of Romano's Macaroni Grill, and President of Corner Bakery Café.  She also held executive leadership roles within YUM! Brands, including Vice President, Operations for Taco Bell, Inc. and Senior Director, Concept Development for Pizza Hut, Inc.  The Board is fully confident in Ms. Birch's ability to successfully lead Papa Murphy's outstanding management team and to oversee the Company's ongoing strategic initiatives until a permanent Chief Executive Officer is appointed.  

Ms. Birch stated, "While the general climate in the quarter continued to be challenging, we believe we are at a key inflection point at Papa Murphy's, having successfully laid the groundwork for many of our long term strategic initiatives.   We look forward to seeing the results of these initiatives in 2017 and for years to come." 

Ms. Birch continued, "We appreciate the many years of leadership and service that Ken has provided to Papa Murphy's.  His efforts have positioned us well for the future and we wish him all the best as he begins the next chapter in his career."  

Mr. Calwell added, "I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked side by side with the family of team members, franchise owners, and vendors that make Papa Murphy's so special.  It has been an honor being part of this great brand and team."

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