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Panera Bread owner to buy Pret A Manger

The sale adds to JAB Holding Co.’s growing collection of coffee chains.

The owner of Panera Bread on Tuesday added yet another name to its growing collection of coffee and fast-casual chains with the acquisition of a majority stake in the British concept Pret A Manger from the private-equity firm Bridgepoint.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but media outlets in the United Kingdom said the sale was valued at £1.5 billion, or nearly $2 billion, some of which will go directly to Pret employees.

Pret has 530 global locations and generates nearly $1.2 billion in annual revenues. The company operates 93 locations in the U.S., according to Technomic data, and its system sales in the U.S. grew 18.5% in 2017. The company said in a statement that its same-store sales have increased for nine straight years.

“All of us at Pret believe JAB will be excellent long-term strategic owners,” Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret A Manger, said in a statement. “JAB believes in Pret’s values and supports our growth plans.”

Bridgepoint had been considering an exit of its investment, possibly through an initial public offering in the U.S. But the track record of growth chains going public in the U.S. has investors here suspicious, making the market less receptive to new IPOs. There hasn’t been a traditional restaurant IPO in the U.S. in nearly three years.

Instead, Pret joins a growing list of companies under the JAB umbrella. The conglomerate, based in Luxembourg, last year acquired Panera Bread, which acquired Au Bon Pain in November.  

Over the years it has acquired Krispy Kreme, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee, Bruegger’s Bagels, Intelligentsia Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, in addition to Keurig Green Mountain and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.

The firm cited Pret’s “proven track record” for the acquisition and its growth. “Management’s proven track record and commitment to customer service, investment in innovation and approach to freshly prepared food position Pret well as it capitalizes on evolving customer taste and lifestyle preferences,” Olivier Goudet, JAB partner and CEO, said in a statement.

Pret was first opened in London in 1986 and serves sandwiches, salads and wraps in addition to a healthy breakfast business. The company donates unsold food to charity at the end of the day.

“This has been a successful investment for Bridgepoint and illustrates how private equity, investing for the long term and working with talented management can deliver strong growth for the benefit of all stakeholders,” William Jackson, Pret’s chairman and Bridgepoint’s managing partner, said in a statement.

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