Panera Bread Buys Au Bon Pain, Adding to JAB’s Breakfast Empire


By Tiffany Hsu, The New York Times

NOV. 8, 2017


Panera Bread is reuniting with its fellow bakery-cafe chain Au Bon Pain, pulling a staple of transit stations into a portfolio of companies that includes some of the biggest brands in breakfast.


Panera, known for serving soups and sandwiches, purchased its quick-serve cousin for an undisclosed amount, the company said Wednesday. Au Bon Pain has 304 units worldwide, most with smaller storefronts than the 2,050 sit-down restaurants Panera operates.


The two chains were once under the same roof. Au Bon Pain Co. was co-founded in 1981 by Ron Shaich, who acquired a chain of bakery restaurants that became known as Panera and later spun off Au Bon Pain.


The acquisition “offers the strategic opportunity for us to grow in several new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others,” Mr. Shaich said in a statement.


As the deal was announced, Panera said that Mr. Shaich, 64, would step down as its chief executive on Jan. 1. He will be succeeded by Blaine Hurst, Panera’s president, the company said.


Earlier this year, after 26 years as a public company, Panera was purchased for $7.5 billion by JAB Holding Co., a family-held European company. JAB also owns the coffee brands Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee and Caribou Coffee, and paid $1.35 billion for the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain last year....