Panera Bread Co. announced plans to purchase Au Bon Pain in a deal to work on strategy, communications, and acquisitions following CEO Ron Shaich’s step down. Currently, Au Bon Pain has 304 locations worldwide and this acquisition will help Panera grow their business in locations with a smaller footprint. Au Bon Pain has stores in transportation terminals and hospitals that a traditional Panera restaurant wouldn’t fit into.
This step down followed a 6-month purchase of Panera by JAB Holding for about $7.5 billion. Privately held in Luxembourg, JAB owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts as well as Keurig and has been selling off several of their luxury brands in order to focus on faster growing consumer sectors. Blaine Hurst is to take on the new role as CEO and continue as president.
Joining in 2010, Hurst worked on Panera’s $42 million investment, Panera 2.0. Order and pay processes with fast lane kiosks and mobile orders for speedy checkouts have been modernized and improved under Hurst’s presidency. He has focused on manufacturing, supply chain, information technology, consumer packaged goods, digital, and human resources.
"This is the right time for me to step down as CEO while still staying involved in the business as Chairman," Shaich said. "I returned in 2011 because our growth was slowing and we needed to reposition Panera as a better competitive alternative with expanded growth opportunities. And I'm happy to say we've done just that."