Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain are old acquaintances once owned by the same company, but Panera’s recent acquisition of the smaller bakery chain brings them back together for the first time since 1999. Panera was recently acquired by investment firm JAB, which has been growing their portfolio with coffee-and-bakery chains. That’s where Au Bon Pain comes in: Panera wants to use the company to take over locations that differ from the larger chain’s. These include hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations. As part of the acquisition, Panera also appointed a new CEO for the bakery chain.
Vivaldi Partner Marie Chan weighed in on the Au Bon Pain purchase to AdAge: “Since Au Bon Pain typically is in smaller footprints, Panera Bread, on the whole, can better capture the needs of consumers who are on-the-go, rather than looking for a sit-down experience.” In the midst of this move, Ron Shaich is stepping down as CEO and passing the role to Panera President Blaine Hurst. Shaich will continue his involvement by staying on as Panera’s chairman of the board. Panera has experienced significant growth under Shaich’s leadership, but its purchase of Au Bon Pain promises more growth to come.