“These are Russian companies, mostly Russian owned or Russian institutions, that don’t share our beliefs or our demands,” said Michael Seid, founder of MSA Worldwide, a global franchise consulting firm. “The Russian franchisee has debts, he has to pay the employees. They’ll do what’s in their best interest, and it’ll all be sorted out later.
In the two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, Wynne said, it was clear from his conversations that Papa John’s executives in the United States were nervous. Last Wednesday, Daddy Johns temporarily cut ties with Mr Wynne’s business in Russia when he said he would “no longer provide operational, marketing or sales support to the Russian market”.
“Our perspectives diverged quite quickly,” Wynne said a day later in a Zoom interview from Milan, where he was visiting before planning to return to Russia this week. “I have a perspective where my interest is first and foremost my employees and franchisees and keeping open the lines of cultural exchange with the Russian people,” Mr. Wynne said.
“Dad John’s worries about the corporate and political winds that, on a daily basis, I can’t focus on,” he added. (Mr. Wynne’s business interests extend beyond Papa John’s. During the pandemic, he began a CBD Company in Colorado.)
In an emailed statement, Papa John’s said it believed its decision to suspend operations in Russia was “supported by the vast majority of our team members, franchisees, customers and communities around the world. “.
Mr. Wynne’s wife is Russian and the couple have a 2-year-old daughter. They have a farm in Colorado that they call home, but still spend a lot of time in Russia. While there, Mr Wynne said, he spends his time during the week visiting Papa John’s sites “from Moscow to Siberia”. On weekends, he goes fishing, takes family hikes in the hills outside Moscow, and takes his daughter to city playgrounds.
He said it “has never been my responsibility or right to comment on politics in Russia”, instead focusing on the opportunities he felt his company provided for people in the country.