LOUISVILLE, KY. – Papa John’s International Inc. said same-store sales increased 5.3% systemwide in North America and 2.3% in the company’s international business during the first quarter ended March 29.

The company said approximately 350 of the company’s 2,100 international franchised stores are temporarily closed, principally in Ireland, Peru and the Philippines. Fifteen of the company’s franchise locations in China and one of the locations in Korea remain closed. Both markets were impacted early by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and new infections have significantly declined.

“First in Asia, then in Europe, and now in North and South America, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic impact our business differently, depending on the restrictions enacted by governments,” said Rob Lynch, president and chief executive officer of Papa John’s. “In some international markets this has resulted in temporary closures, but in most markets, including North America, we are nearly fully operational.

“Although March sales in North America were negatively impacted by the cancellation of large gatherings, including major sporting events, our international and domestic businesses have performed well, as customers and communities rely on us and others in the food delivery industry. Our cash position is supporting our current operations, and we have access to approximately $350 million in our credit facility, should we need it. We are continuously monitoring the situation and will provide further updates on our upcoming first-quarter earnings call.”

Despite a good financial performance, the company withdrew its previous financial outlook for fiscal 2020 because of uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our team members’ health and safety are always our top priority, and even more so now because of the critical importance of their work,” Lynch said. “We have implemented extra health and safety measures across our business, including No Contact Delivery, for the protection of both our customers and team members. We have expanded our benefits to include free virtual doctor visits. This is in addition to existing benefits of no-cost mental health support, affordable health plan options and access to the Papa John’s Team Member Emergency Relief Fund, if and when needed. We have also ramped up our hiring to provide thousands of jobs to workers displaced by the impact of COVID-19.”

In other company news, John Schnatter, co-founder of Papa John’s, lowered his stake in the company to approximately 4% from 30%, according to a March 24 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result, Schnatter’s obligation to report sales or buys of shares has ended.

SEC documents show Schnatter sold 60,539 shares for $51.20 per share on March 20, 239,431 shares for $54.69 per share on March 23, and 50,000 for $51.76 per share on March 24.