THE COLONY, Texas — Seven months after it usually holds its annual meeting, shareholders of publicly traded Pizza Inn's were set to convene at the 350-unit chain's headquarters on June 23.
According to a news release, Tim Taft, who was appointed chief executive and president over the struggling chain on March 31 (read Taft named president, CEO at Pizza Inn), plans to discuss his vision for the future of the 47-year-old company. In a presentation titled "Building a Better Pizza Inn," Taft is slated to discuss how the company will enhance its brand recognition and improve its market credibility.
"We have a good brand with a lot of history behind it," Taft said. "The Building a Better Pizza Inn program targets five areas that we believe are critical to Pizza Inn's success." Taft cited renewed emphasis on service and quality at the chain's Norco distribution arm, as well as a renewed focus on implementation of system standards. Better unit-level economics must be achieved, he said, and franchisee selection and training will improve.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us, but the entire Pizza Inn team is enthusiastic and dedicated to revitalizing our brand," Taft said. "As Pizza Inn looks toward its 50th year of operations, we are committed to making the 'one team, one brand, one system' vision a reality."
Taft most recently served as chief operating officer at the Corpus Christi, Texas-based Whataburger chain. During his tenure, the company grew from 260 units to 745, and it pieced together a 47-quarter string of positive comparable-store sales growth. In 1994, average unit sales were $750,000; today they are $1.4 million per store.
In revitalizing Pizza Inn, Taft has a tough row to hoe. The chain's numbers have dwindled to less than half its early 1990s peak of 800, and disgruntled franchisees and shareholders are eager for solid leadership at the helm.
Taft replaced CEO and president Ronald Parker, who was fired last December (read CEO Parker is out at Pizza Inn) for violating the terms of his employment agreement. In January Pizza Inn instituted an arbitration proceeding against Parker to avoid paying his severance package, which is potentially as high as $5.4 million. (Read also Pizza Inn officially fires Parker, but lawsuit is expected and Will Parker's departure from Pizza Inn end an era of greed?)
According to regulatory filings, Parker owns 8.44 percent of Pizza Inn's stock.