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JAB's Panera Bread to buy Au Bon Pain, reuniting coffee chains

  • Panera Bread said Wednesday that it will be acquiring bakery Au Bon Pain.
  • The purchase of the bakery will allow Panera to grow its business in locations with a smaller footprint like universities, transportation terminals and hospitals.
  • The company did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of Au Bon Pain, but the deal is slated to close in the fourth quarter.

Panera Bread said Wednesday that it will be repurchasing Au Bon Pain.

The company did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of Au Bon Pain, which has about 300 locations. The deal is slated to close in the fourth quarter.

However, Panera CEO Ron Shaich is no stranger to Au Bon Pain, having merged his cookie store, the Cookie Jar, with the bakery in the 1980s, creating the Au Bon Pain Company. In the early '90s the company acquired the Saint Louis Bread Company, which would go on to be renamed Panera.

In 1991, the company went public, with Shaich on board as the CEO. However, seven years later, Shaich sold all of the Au Bon Pain divisions to focus on growing the Panera brand.

"With the acquisition we are announcing today, we are bringing Au Bon Pain and Panera together again," Shaich said in a statement Wednesday. "This acquisition offers the strategic opportunity for us to grow in several new real estate channels."

The acquisition will allow Panera to grow its business in locations with a smaller footprint. Au Bon Pain has shops in transportation terminals, universities and hospitals that a traditional Panera restaurant would not fit into.

The purchase of the bakery comes just six months after Panera was purchased by JAB Holding for about $7.5 billion. Shaich said at the time that Panera had proven to be a successful public company, but that he would be able to do more as a private business.

JAB, a privately held company headquartered in Luxembourg, may not be a household name, but its brands are. The company owns Keurig Green Mountain and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Dunkin' Brands, a long-speculated target for JAB, recently saw shares jump amid renewed chatter. Its stock closed down 3.73 percent following the Au Bon Pain announcement.

Meanwhile, JAB has been selling off several of its luxury brands in order to focus on faster-growing consumer sectors and has been steadily creating a coffee and breakfast empire over the last five years.