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Panera Parent Announces CEO Transition As It Prepares For IPO

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

Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

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

Tuesday’s announcement confirms that the restaurant company is interested in an initial public offering after closing a deal with Danny Meyer’s SPAC last year to go public again.

The arrangement would have exchanged shares of the USHG acquisition for stock of the sandwich chain and allowed the company to avoid a merger with Panera subsidiary Rye merger. However, Panera canceled those plans in July, citing market conditions.

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

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

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

Jose Dueñas, CEO of Einstein Brothers Bagels, will replace Chowdhary. Prior to joining the bagel chain in 2019, he served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-Ins. Including time on their resume Darden Restaurants’ Olive Garden and kellogg,

In 2022, Panera Brands’ revenue is projected to exceed $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 is also testing AI drive-thru order taking and Amazon’s Palm-scanning technology.

Panera Brands isn’t the only restaurant company talking publicly. On Friday, Mediterranean fast-casual chain Cava filed to go public via an IPO.

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