- Panera Brands has appointed Niren Chaudhary, current Panera Brands CEO and Panera Bread CEO, as its chairman of the board as the company prepares for its future IPO, the company said in a press release.
- José Alberto Dueñas, current president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels, will become the CEO of Panera Brands effective July 1. Patrick Grismer, former Starbucks CFO and Panera Brands’ independent director, will become chairman of the audit committee at Panera Brands.
- Panera Brands has been considering an IPO since 2021, when it initially entered an agreement with Danny Meyer’s special purpose acquisition company USHG Acquisition Corp., but that partnership ended in 2022. At the time, Panera said it would continue its path toward a public listing if market conditions improved.
Panera Brands’ path to become public began in August 2021, when parent company JAB grouped Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels under the Panera Brands umbrella. At the time, Chaudhary became CEO of Panera Brands in addition to his role as Panera Bread’s CEO. Panera was originally a public company for about 30 years until it went private in 2017, when JAB acquired the brand for $7.5 billion.
Under Chaudhary’s leadership, Panera Bread grew its digital capabilities, which amount to 53% of total sales. The company also grew its loyalty program to 53 million members and launched a subscription model, Unlimited Sip Club, in 2022. Twenty-five percent of Panera transactions coming from these loyalty members, the company said in the press release. In 2022, Panera generated $4.8 billion in revenue.
“Panera also increased its pace of innovation, strengthened franchisee partnerships and led the creation of a strong, people-first culture, resulting in industry-leading retention rates for GMs and associates,” the company said.
Dueñas has been president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels since 2019, and led a strategic transformation by focusing on offering a “winning breakfast” and fostering a culture that highlights general managers as the most important leaders of the organization, per the release. The company also partook in simplifying its operations that improved the guest experience and expanded the brand’s digital access. This initiative led to better unit-level economics and an overall margin expansion. Prior to his role at Einstein Bros. Bagels, Dueñas was chief brand officer at Sonic and held various leadership positions at Darden.
Grismer joined Panera Brands’ board in 2022. His career includes over two years as CFO of Starbucks, over two years as CFO at Hyatt Hotels and 13 years at Yum Brands in various leadership roles, according to Grismer’s LinkedIn profile. He was CFO at Yum brands from 2012 to 2016.
“The appointment of Mr. Grismer is in line with JAB’s philosophy, as a long-term anchor shareholder, to establish a best-in-class independent public Board framework overseen by industry-leading executives,” the company said in a press release.
If it goes public this year, Panera Brands would be one of a handful of restaurant companies to do so. IPO filings cooled last year after several companies went public 2021. But renewed interest began to emerge this year despite challenging inflationary conditions. In May, Cava publicly filed its IPO and indicated its plans to grow to 1,000 units by 2032 despite operating at a loss. Fogo de Chao is also rumored to go public this year.