Well this is some big new that’ll shake up the bakery world. It looks like Panera just announced a deal to acquire vaguely-French-themed bakery chain Au Bon Pain, a staple of malls, airports, and urban centers the world over.
Panera, the bread-loving dining outpost that practically invented the fast casual category, says it plans to have Au Bon Pain explore “new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others.” Basically, it sounds like they want ABP to go the places that Panera currently doesn’t.
The move signals another attempt by JAB to tighten its grip on the breakfast/bakery space. The Luxembourg holding company purchased Panera less than six months ago for an astounding $7.5 billion. JAB counts Krispy Kreme, Peet’s Coffee, Stumptown and Keurig Green Mountain among its dozens of subsidiary brands, and they were last spotted making eyes at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Oddly enough, the move constitutes a reunion of sorts. Au Bon Pain Co. purchased the Saint Louis Bread Company, which was eventually rebranded as Panera. Somehow, Panera grew big enough by 1999 to sell off Au Bon Pain. Now, the move brings the two back together after eighteen years of independent growth. Concurrent with the deal’s announcement, Panera co-founder and CEO Ron Shaich said he’s stepping down.
Will this continued consolidation mean we can get Krispy Kremes at Au Bon Pains that are actually Paneras? Stay tuned.