LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Papa John's International announced the sale of its struggling Perfect Pizza chain in the United Kingdom to Smartfirst Limited.

According to a news release, the chain was sold for approximately $13 million, well below the $32 million Papa John's paid for it in 1999. Back then, the brand was 205 stores strong, and according to a 1999 regulatory filing, Papa John's planned to convert all Perfect Pizza units to Papa John's by 2004. Chris Sternberg, senior vice president of corporate communications, said a total of 61 Perfect Pizza units were converted to the Papa John's brand.

The transaction, completed as a sale of assets, included the sale of all franchise rights and leases related to the remaining 110 franchised Perfect Pizza units and a distribution facility.

Papa John's will continue to franchise and operate its 89 Papa John's stores in the U.K. It plans to open as many as 20 new units there in 2006.

"Perfect Pizza provided us a good platform for launching and developing the Papa John's brand in the U.K., but we now believe the two brands are best managed separately," said Papa John's chief operations officer Bill Van Epps. "This sale allows our franchisees and management team to focus exclusively on Papa John's, which has excellent momentum and growth potential in the U.K. and other regions throughout the world."

The sale reduces Papa John's total system unit count to 2,917.

Read also, Papa John's to prune intl. markets in '06.

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