Together again: Panera Bread to buy Au Bon Pain

Andrew Cummings
November 9, 2017

Panera also announced that Blaine Hurst, who joined St. Louis-based Panera in 2011 as SVP of technology and transformation and was named president last December, will replace Shaich as CEO on January 1. Shaich will stay on as Panera's chairman, and will continue to work on the chain's strategy and future acquisitions.

Panera did not say how much it will pay for Boston-based Au Bon Pain, which operates more than 300 locations.

Shaich and Kane founded Au Bon Pain in 1981 and acquired Saint Louis Bread Company and renamed it Panera Bread in 1993. A year later, he merged the concept with a small three-bakery chain called Au Bon Pain and began selling healthy, low-priced meals marketed as a quality alternative to fast food.

Panera Bread announced on Wednesday that it would acquire Boston-based Au Bon Pain, a move that will reunite two bakery-cafes that share the same starter yeast.

According to Business Insider, the two brands have similar menus with sandwiches, salads, soups, and coffee with an emphasis on nutrition.

Shaich's departure from the position of CEO and the purchase of Au Bon Pain comes just six months after Panera was purchased by JAB Holding for about $7.5 billion. Terms of the transaction, which unites restaurant brands that were part of the same company until the late 1990s, weren't disclosed.

"Blaine Hurst has worked closely with Ron over the last several years on many of Panera's most important initiatives", JAB's partner and CEO Olivier Goudet said in the statement.

Blaine Hurst, Panera's president and company veteran who has led numerous company's most significant innovations over the last half-decade, will assume the position of CEO. "The chain also recently began to post the amount of calories and added sugar in its beverages on its soda cups and began selling smaller-size portions of its entrees to children", Julie Jargon points out in the Wall Street Journal.

JAB Holding Co., the investment firm backed by Austria's billionaire Reimann family, is expanding its USA food empire. It was acquired in July 2017 by JAB Holding, which also owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Peet's Coffee & Tea.

Now that's a caffeine buzz.

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