US: Panera Bread swallows Au Bon Pain in a merger

Panera Bread is rebuying Au Bon Pain, though for how much remains to be seen.

Panera and Au Bon Pain have a long and peculiar history in the restaurant industry. Panera CEO Ron Shaich merged his cookie business (the Cookie Jar) with Au Bon Pain to create the Au Bon Pain Company. In the early 90s, Au Bon Pain bought up Saint Louis Bread Company, which would go on to be renamed Panera Bread.

In 1991, the firm went public, with Shaich staying on as CEO. In 1998, Au Bon Pain was sold off in favor of growing Panera.

“With the acquisition we are announcing today, we are bringing Au Bon Pain and Panera together again,” Shaich said in a statement on Wednesday, November 8. “This acquisition offers the strategic opportunity for us to grow in several new real estate channels.”

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