Panera announces CEO stepping down, acquirement of Au Bon Pain

Panera vs Au Bon Pain 16

Au Bon Pain and Panera sandwiches. Hollis Johnson

The reunion will serve as a swan song for Shaich, who is stepping down as Panera's CEO on January 1 - a move the company announced shortly after news of the deal hit.

Panera said the purchase is part of its plan "to intensify growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations". However, seven years later, Shaich sold all of the Au Bon Pain divisions to focus on growing the Panera brand.

Au Bon Pain, much like Panera, is a fast-casual chain that serves sandwiches, breads, pastries, salads, soups and coffee.

Shaich, Panera's CEO, managed a cookie franchise in 1981 when he and his late partner Louis Kane created Au Bon Pain in 1981. Saint Louis Bread was renamed Panera and, in 1999, Au Bon Pain was sold so that all human and capital resources available at that time could be focused on Panera, according to the release.

CNBC reports Shaich also announced Wednesday that he's stepping down as CEO, six months after Panera was purchased by JAB Holding for about $7.5 billion.

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Panera's founder and CEO is stepping down at the end of the year, after 36 years of leadership at the chain. He will be succeeded by Blaine Hurst, president of Panera.

Indeed. JAB's acquisitions include "Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, the Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Peet's Coffee & Tea and Stumptown Coffee Roasters - a buying frenzy that has jolted the food industry", Giammona points out. "I returned in 2011 because our growth was slowing and we needed to reposition Panera as a better competitive alternative with expanded growth opportunities".

"I've now completed 36 years as a leader of our company and I'm particularly pleased to be able to say that Panera has been the best-performing restaurant stock of the last 20 years, delivering a total shareholder return up 86-fold from July 18, 1997, to July 18, 2017", Shaich said.

Shaich eventually took the St. Louis Bread company concept national under the name Panera and built up both brands in tandem. "And I'm happy to say we've done just that", Shaich said in a statement. "And I have been fortunate to lead and be a part of numerous initiatives that are now driving Panera's success".

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