- Hollis Johnson
- Panera is acquiring sandwich rival Au Bon Pain. This is a reunion for the two brands, which were united under a single company in the ’80s and ’90s. Krispy Kreme and Keurig owner JAB Holdings acquired Panera for roughly $7.5 billion earlier this year.
Panera is set to acquire rival sandwich chain Au Bon Pain.
On Wednesday, Panera Bread announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc.
With the deal, Panera will acquire more than 300 Au Bon Pain locations around the world. Au Bon Pain is a Boston-based chain that targets people on the go, with most restaurants located in hubs such as malls, hospitals, and transportation centers.
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. However, Au Bon Pain has locations in areas where Panera is working to expand.
“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,” Panera’s founder and longtime CEO, Ron Shaich, said in a statement.
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.
With Panera’s acquisition, the fast-casual chain’s parent company, JAB Holdings, adds another brand to its portfolio. JAB, which also owns Caribou Coffee, Keurig, and Krispy Kreme, paid roughly $7.5 billion to buy Panera earlier this year.
The Au Bon Pain transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The two brands have a long history. Panera has its roots in Au Bon Pain, Inc. – a bakery-café created in the ’80s when Shaich combined his cookie shop with the small bakery chain Au Bon Pain. In 1999, the company formerly known as Au Bon Pain, Inc. sold all of its Au Bon Pain units and renamed itself Panera LLC.
“With the acquisition we are announcing today, we are bringing Au Bon Pain and Panera together again,” Shaich said.