Panera Bread Case Study: Rising Fortunes?
In 1993, AU Bon Pain Company purchased the Saint Louis Bread Company. In 1995, top management at Au Bon Pain instituted a comprehensive overhaul of the newly-acquired Saint Louis Bread locations. The overhaul included altering the menu and the dining atmosphere. The vision was to create a specialty cafe anchored by an authentic, fresh-dough artisan bakery and upscale quick-service menu selections. This acquisition proved successful for Au Bon Pain. Between 1993 and 1997, average unit volumes at the revamped locations increased by 75% and over 100 additional locations were opened. In 1997, the bakery-cafes were renamed Panera bread in markets outside of St Louis. The Panera business plan had worked well and management concluded it had broad market appeal and could be rolled out nationwide. The management team quickly realized the potential of Panera Bread to flourish into one of the leading fast-casual restaurant chains in the nation. With this realization came the need for a more focused management team and greater financial resources. It was not in their best interest to continue with both Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread. In 1998, they went exclusively with Panera Bread and sold their Au Bon Pain bakery-cafe division. After the sales transaction to ABP Corporation was complete, the new Panera Bread Company was restructured and had 180 St Louis Bread and Panera Bread bakery-cafes and a debt-free balance sheet. As of December 29, 2001, the Company had 100 company-operated bakery-cafes, 10 bakery-cafes operated as a joint venture through a 90%-owned indirect subsidiary, for a total of 110 company-owned bakery-cafes, and 259 franchise-operated bakery-cafes. The Company specializes in meeting four consumer dining through providing high quality food, including fresh baked goods, made-to-order sandwiches on freshly baked breads, soups, salads, custom and other cafe beverages, and targets suburban dwellers...
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