Panera will buy Au Bon Pain’s majority stakes for an undisclosed amount, a deal expected to close quickly before the new year arrives.
A franchise chain with roughly 2,050 bakery-cafes in the US, Panera Bread has agreed on acquiring +300 stores of Boston-based franchise company, Au Bon Pain.
Ron Shaich, Panera’s founder, chairman and outgoing CEO, co-founded Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. in 1981 with his late partner Louis Kane. The company went public in 1991 and acquired Saint Louis Bread Company in 1993. Saint Louis Bread was renamed Panera and in 1999, Au Bon Pain was sold in order that all of Panera’s human and capital resources would focus solely on Panera. After nearly two decades now, Panera and Au Bon Pain are getting back together.
It has been a year of change for Panera. Over the summer, the company 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. JAB Holdings seems to be building a coffee empire. It also owns Keurig Green Mountain - known for its K-cups - as well as Caribou Coffee, and Einstein and Noah bagel stores in the US.
With this new acquisition, Ron Shaich will be stepping down as CEO but will remain as Panera’s chairman and will continue to work on the chain’s strategy and future acquisitions. Shaich will be replaced starting January 1st 2018 by Blaine Hurst who currently oversees Panera’s restaurants.
Ron Saich said in a statement: “With the acquisition we are announcing today, we are bringing Au Bon Pain and Panera together again. This 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.”