How about some coffee with that bagel? Panera Bread has gone from publicly-traded to private, bought out by JAB Holding Company, the parent company of Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Keurig Green Mountain.
Quick-service restaurant (QSR) Panera’s new parent, a Luxembourg-based private equity firm, paid $7.5 billion for the acquisition, beating out Starbucks and other rumored suitors. The deal was initially disclosed in April.
Panera’s stock was delisted Tuesday after shareholders voted on July 11 to approve a $315-per-share buyout. The company reported $2.8 billion in revenue last fiscal year, beating the previous year’s $2.68 billion.
Sam Covelli, CEO of Panera’s largest franchise, assured customers operations under the new ownership would be “business as usual” with an even greater customer focus. Covelli said privatization takes certain pressures off the restaurants, freeing them up to focus solely on the customer rather than on pleasing shareholders.
Covelli Enterprises Inc. has more than 300 restaurants in six states and has acquired or opened 50 of them within the past year.
“JAB is highly supportive of Panera’s vision for the future, and the importance of franchise groups like Covelli Enterprises in executing that vision and continuing to grow the brand,” Covelli said.
Part of the vision for the QSR has been the recent removal of all additives and preservatives from the menu, plus new initiatives like delivery and order kiosks to improve service. These initiatives were necessary to alleviate the bottleneck situation that was consistently occurring at the chain’s registers.
At peak hours, Panera customers were waiting in line for eight minutes just to place an order, and that was on top of waiting for food to be prepared. For many customers swinging into the QSR for a quick bite, waiting could take up most or all of their lunch breaks. Mobile orders placed by customers outside the restaurant were creating even more of a backlog.
Panera rolled out touchscreen ordering kiosks and simplified kitchen displays across the chain to combat the stressful ordering process. These solutions have successfully slashed ordering wait times from eight minutes to one and enabled Panera to finally see same-store sales growth after years of flat revenue.