Papa Murphy's sees second quarter loss

But Vancouver-based take-bake pizza chain upbeat about its performance

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Papa Murphy's Holdings Inc., the Vancouver-based parent of Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza chain, said Wednesday it recorded a second-quarter net loss of $1.6 million. That compares with a net loss of $6,000 in the same April-to-June period a year ago.

The company posted total revenues of $21.8 million in the second quarter, up 14 percent from $19.1 million during the same year-ago period. During their earnings conference call Wednesday, executives said the company continues to improve its financial performance. They highlighted several positive results. One was an increase of 1.5 percent in domestic comparable store sales. Another was the opening of 20 stores in the second quarter, including 18 domestic franchise openings.

And Papa Murphy's completed the 900th installation of a point-of-sale software system aimed at boosting efficiency and gathering transaction data at its stores.

That milestone, reached about two weeks ago, means that more than 60 percent of Papa Murphy's "total store base" is now on the new point-of-sale system, said Ken Calwell, CEO of Papa Murphy's. The company's long-term plan is to add a feature to the sales system that allows online ordering.

Meanwhile, the company also continues to enjoy No. 1 rankings by consumers. For example, a recent report by Technomic, the food-industry research firm, rated Papa Murphy's No. 1 overall, Calwell said. It also showed that Papa Murphy's ranks No. 1 among baby boomers and members of Generation X.

"Our development remains on track," Calwell said. He said Papa Murphy's saw "solid sales momentum" in the second quarter and is poised to roll out "new initiatives" later this year and into 2015. The company will give updates of its progress in the coming quarters, Calwell said.

Founded in 1981, Papa Murphy's went public in May, making its costs and profits public for the first time. It operates more than 1,400 franchised and company-owned stores in 38 states, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Most of the company's stores are operated by franchisees.

The company's stock, which trades as FRSH on the Nasdaq exchange, closed up 20 cents Wednesday, at $8.89 per share. The shares opened at $11 when the company went public on May 2.