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Bakery cafes prosper and post solid gains in weak economy

Bakery cafes have emerged as high-fliers in the restaurant industry, and are well-positioned to leverage new growth opportunities as the economy continues its slow recovery. Systemwide sales for the bakery cafe industry grew by 12 percent to more than $4.5 billion in 2008. Industry leaders Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Au Bon Pain accounted for the lion’s share of sales, with $2.6 billion, $393 million and $307 million respectively.

“The consumer trade-down from full-service to limited-service formats that solidified through 2008 and into 2009 allowed fast-casual bakery cafes to truly shine,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at foodservice industry consultant Technomic.“The appeal of moderately priced, high-quality menu offerings served in contemporary ambiance, as well as consumer perception of value for this format, has more than likely strengthened over the past year.”

The findings are detailed in a new study, the 2009 Technomic Top 25 Bakery Cafe Chains Restaurant Report. Some trends, chains and products examined in this report include:

  • Health and nutrition: Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Lighter Fare Menus
  • Expansion of breakfast offerings: Atlanta Bread Company, Corner Bakery Cafe and Panera Bread
  • Revamped catering programs: Au Bon Pain’s Hot Lunch line
  • Value equation: La Madeleine’s Choose Two Menu, Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Snack-Out menu, Au Bon Pain’s small-bite Portions menu
  • Nontraditional sites and urban locations: Corner Bakery Cafe into airports, college campuses and military bases, Einstein Bros. Bagels into medical centers and hotels.
  • Social media: use of Facebook and Twitter to promote new and limited-time offerings.

 Other interesting findings include:

  • The Top 25 bakery cafe chains’ sales reached more than $4.5 billion and grew by 11.8 percent in 2008. Units expanded by 6.6 percent to 3,107 locations.
  • Panera Bread represented over half of the Top 25 chains’ sales in 2008. The next closest concept was Einstein Bros. Bagels, with less than 10 percent of the Top 25’s sales. Unit count was more widely spread, with Panera Bread making up 42.6 percent and Einstein Bros. Bagels comprising 16 percent of unit share. 
  • Paradise Bakery & Cafe had the fastest rate of sales growth at 30.7 percent. Le Pain Quotidien was the leader in store count growth rate at 29.6 percent.

The 2009 Technomic Top 25 Bakery Cafe Chains Restaurant Report was designed to help restaurant operators and suppliers identify top performers, analyze their performance in sales and units, and better understand the industry’s dynamics and current trends. Comprehensive appendices list the Top 25 Bakery Cafe chains alphabetically, rank them by sales and units, and profile individual chains.

To purchase or learn more about this report, please visit www.technomic.com

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