A European company you’ve never heard of has quietly acquired Panera, Au Bon Pain, and Krispy Kreme in its quest to build a coffee empire

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Hollis Johnson

    Panera is acquiring sandwich rival Au Bon Pain. JAB Holdings already owns Panera, Caribou Coffee, Krispy Kreme, and Keurig. The European firm apparently wants to be the “largest coffee company in the world.”

The company that owns Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, and Panera Bread just signed an agreement to buy Au Bon Pain.

On Wednesday, Panera Bread announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc. For JAB Holdings, Panera’s parent company, that means yet another restaurant chain in its extensive portfolio.

“This is part of a much bigger story,” Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said of the deal at the New York Time’s DealBook conference Thursday. “JAB wants to become the largest coffee company in the world.”

JAB, the investment arm of the secretive Reimann family, has been busily scooping up companies in the consumer and food sectors in the past few years. It spent roughly $7.5 billion to acquire Panera in July. The firm also paid about $1.35 billion to buy Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in 2016.

Here’s the story of the firm that wants to become the “largest coffee company in the world.”


JAB acquired Peet’s Coffee and Tea in 2012.

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REUTERS/Kimberly White

JAB Holdings acquired Peet’s back in 2012 for about $1 billion.


It then did a deal for Caribou Coffee.

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By mastermaq on Flickr

JAB also runs Caribou Coffee Co., which it acquired in 2013 for $340 million. Caribou Coffee is based in Minnesota.


Next up was D.E Master Blenders 1753

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D.E Master Blenders

JAB struck a deal in 2013 to buy D.E. Master Blenders 1753, which had been spun out of Sara Lee Corp. a year earlier, for $9.8 billion.


Then it struck a big deal in 2014 to create Jacobs Douwe Egberts, which owns brands including Kenco, Tassimo, Senseo and Moccona.

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Jacobs Douwe Egberts

The biggest brand under JAB’s umbrella is Jacobs Douwe Egberts, the world’s biggest coffee company, which has revenues totaling more than 5 billion euros. That entity was formed as a result of a merger between another JAB brand and Mondelēz International coffee products, which closed earlier this year. Mondelēz maintains a 44% stake in the combined company.


JAB Holdings bought Einstein Bros. parent company in 2014.

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Yelp/Steve F.

JAB also bought Einstein Noah, a Colorado-based bagel company, in a $370 million deal. Einstein Noah was founded in 1995 and was operating more than 850 stores nationwide at the time of the sale.


It also acquired the leading Nordic coffee retailer.

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Espresso House

JAB Holdings reached a deal worth more than $300 million to buy Espresso House, the leading coffee chain in Sweden and Norway, in 2015.


JAB-owned Peet’s Coffee and Tea has gone on a buying spree.

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Wikimedia Commons

Peet’s has since gone on a buying spree, picking up two US brands – Stumptown and Intelligensia – in 2016. They are based in Portland and Chicago, respectively.


JAB’s holdings don’t stop there, either.

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JDC

JAB Holdings also has investments in top European brands, including Marcilla Professional, Pickwick, and Friele, to name a few. The company also owns leading makers of high-end brewing products.


Last year, it added Krispy Kreme to the mix.

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Krispy Kreme

JAB Holdings and its partners spent about$1.35 billionto buy Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.


Panera was a big-name purchase earlier this year.

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Facebook/Panera Bread

Panera’s CEO Ron Shaich said that the acquisition allowed Panera to focus more on long-term success, as opposed to short-term sales.


On Wednesday, Panera announced plans to acquire sandwich rival Au Bon Pain.

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Hollis Johnson

The two brands have strikingly similar menus, selling sandwiches, salads, soups, and coffee with an emphasis on nutrition that many fast-food competitors do not have.

Shaich told Business Insider it is “too early” to say how the acquisition will impact Au Bon Pain locations. So, it is unclear if the brands will remain completely separate or if Au Bon Pain locations will adopt aspects of Panera’s brand – or even be completely revamped as Panera locations.

Jonathan Marino and Rachel Butt contributed to earlier versions of this post.