Panera parent company announces CEO transition as it prepares for IPO


Customers attend an open Panera Bread location in the Walt Whitman Mall on March 26, 2020 in Huntington Station, New York.

Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Panera Bread’s parent company is changing direction as it prepares to go public again.

The announcement, made on Tuesday, confirms the catering company is interested in an initial public offering after scrapping a deal last year with Danny Meyer’s SPAC to go public again.

The arrangement would have swapped shares of USHG Acquisition for shares of the sandwich chain and allowed the company to survive a merger with Panera subsidiary Rye Merger. However, Panera scrapped those plans in July, citing market conditions.

JAB Holding, the investment arm of the Reimann family, bought Panera Bread in 2017 for $7.5 billion, taking it private. The company combined the sandwich chain with Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee to form Panera Brands.

In the press release, Panera Brands said the management changes are “in preparation for its possible IPO.”

Current CEO Niren Chaudhary will step down on July 1, but plans to remain chairman of the company’s board. Chaudhary served as chief executive for four years after joining the company from Krispy Kreme. JAB Holding also owned the donut chain before its 2021 IPO and still retains a 45% stake, according to Factset.

The CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels, Jose DueƱas, will take the reins of Chaudhary. Before joining the bagel chain in 2019, he served as Chief Brand Officer for Sonic Drive-In. His resume also includes time at Darden Restaurants Garden of Olives and Kellogg.

In 2022, Panera Brands revenues exceeded $4.8 billion. Panera Bread, the largest chain in the portfolio, has long been known as a technology leader in the restaurant industry. Digital orders account for more than half of the chain’s total sales and its loyalty program has 53 million members. Panera Bread also tested AI steering wheel order taking and from Amazon palm swipe technology.

Panera Brands isn’t the only restaurant company talking publicly about going public. On Friday, the Mediterranean chain of fast-casual Cava filed for an IPO.

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