Papa John’s executive abruptly steps down

A Papa John’s executive is leaving the troubled company, effective immediately.

Timothy O’Hern told the pizza company on Wednesday that he is retiring, according to an SEC filing. He became president of the company’s international division in May. He also served as Papa John International’s chief development officer.

O’Hern became a franchisee in 1993, and worked for the company for more than 20 years. He owns and operates nine franchises in the United States, and will continue to do so.

A company spokesperson said O’Hern was leaving for personal reasons.

“We thank Tim for his many contributions to the Company and are pleased that he will remain a franchisee and a member of the Papa John’s family,” the company said in a statement, adding that it expects a “smooth transition.” His duties will be taken over by current members of the Papa John’s team, according to the filing.

Papa John’s announced in July that it is conducting an investigation into its diversity and inclusion processes, as well as into the overall company culture, after news broke that its founder John Schnatter had used a racial slur on a conference call.

O’Hern’s departure is not related to the investigation, the spokesperson added.

Papa John’s has been embroiled in an ugly fight with Schnatter for weeks.

Schnatter stepped down from his role as CEO last year, and resigned his post as chairman of the board in July. Since then, he has harshly criticized the company’s current leadership. The company says his accusations are without merit.