Economy

Together again: Panera Bread to buy Au Bon Pain

Together again: Panera Bread to buy Au Bon Pain

That's partly because Panera founder and longtime CEO Ron Shaich merged his cookie stores known as The Cookie Jar with Au Bon Pain in the '80s; in the late '90s, the company acquired the Saint Louis Bread Company, which would go on to become Panera when all of its Au Bon Pain units were sold off.

"We are bringing Au Bon Pain and Panera together again", Shaich said in a statement, according to Nation's Restaurant News. He plans to remain on the restaurant's board of directors.

The company did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of Au Bon Pain, which has about 300 locations. "I returned in 2011 because our growth was slowing and we needed to reposition Panera as a better competitive alternative with expanded growth opportunities".

"This is the right time for me to step down as CEO while still staying involved in the business as Chairman", added Shaich. Kane died of cancer in 2000. In 1997, Au Bon Pain made a decision to rename that company Panera Bread - and by 1999, Panera Bread was growing at such a clip that Shaich's team decide to sell off the Au Bon Pain brand to focus more exclusively on Panera.

The Au Bon Pain transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter.

"A lot of people have talked about this in the context of closing the circle, but that isn't what it's about", Shaich tells the Boston Globe's Janelle Nanos. They renamed the chain Panera Bread.

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Staich's "denouement is very much like that of Howard Schultz, who stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in April to become executive chairman". He has been the company leader 36 years and is pleased that Panera over the past 20 years has been the restaurant stock that has performed the best.

Shaich is proud of how Panera has pushed into today's digital age, its loyalty program and is 100% clean menu.

Panera Bread has since grown to become one of the biggest chains in the US, with more than 2,000 locations and $5 billion in system sales. "The chain turned a corner in early 2016 and has since posted sales and earnings growth that have outpaced the industry, leading to a surge in company shares", Jargon reports.

JAB Holding Co., the investment firm backed by the billionaire Reimann family, is expanding its USA food empire.

It has been a year of change for Panera: In July, it was bought and taken private for more than $7 billion by JAB Holding, a European company that has controlling interests in Krispy Kreme, Peet's Coffee and other chains and coffee brands.

Now that's a caffeine buzz.


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