[THE INVESTOR] MP Group Chairman Jung Woo-hyun who owns the Mr. Pizza franchise in Korea stepped down on June 26 after his high-handed management style was seen to have led to the suicide of a former franchisee owner in May.
Jung, 69, is accused of obstructing business by purposely opening new stores near smaller pizza shops operated by former franchisees and selling pizzas at cheaper prices. One of the shop owners last month committed suicide after suffering sluggish sales.
“I’m stepping down to take full responsibility for the recent controversies and prosecutors’ probe,” he said at a press conference in Seoul. He added that any Mr.Pizza store found to be engaging in controversial activities would be shut down.
Jung is also charged with forcing franchisees to buy cheese from his relatives at above the market price.
Prosecutors collected related evidence in raids at the firm's headquarters and some suppliers. They have imposed a travel ban on the former chairman.
This is not the first time that Jung has made a public apology. He did so last year after slapping a 58-year-old security guard at a Mr. Pizza store in Seoul for shutting the main gate while he was still having dinner.
Jung is considered one of the most successful franchise stories in Korea. He opened the first Mr. Pizza store in Seoul in 1990. Then, he purchased the brand from the Japanese owner in 1996 and nurtured it as the best-selling pizza chain in 2009 outpacing Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. The firm operates more than 400 franchise stores globally.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)