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Panera Bread To Acquire Au Bon Pain, CEO Shaich to Step Down

Au bon pain
photo by m01229 on Flickr

Panera Bread, a franchise chain of 2,050 bakery-cafes, announced today that it has agreed to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

The St. Louis-based franchising firm, which was acquired by European-based consumer goods conglomerate JAB Holding Company for approximately $7.5 billion in April, also announced that Ron Shaich will step down as its CEO on January 1, 2018. However, he will continue as the chairman of Panera's board of directors, overseeing strategy and acquisitions.

Boston-based bakery-cafe chain Au Bon Pain has 304 units worldwide. The concept will be used as part of Panera’s initiative to intensify growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others.

Ron Shaich, Panera’s founder, chairman and outgoing CEO, and his late partner Louis Kane co-founded Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. in 1981. 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.

“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.”

The acquisition is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email don@bluemaumau.org.