Panera buys Au Bon Pain

Panera Bread Co. has agreed to acquire the Au Bon Pain bakery-cafe chain, a business it sold 26 years ago, to ease the buyer’s entry into nontraditional locations.

Terms were not disclosed.

“This acquisition offers the strategic opportunity for us to grow in several new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others,” Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera, said in a prepared statement.

The 300-unit Au Bon Pain chain has a large presence in hospitals, colleges and so-called business-and-industry settings.

Panera operates or franchisees about 2,050 bakery-cafes, virtually all of them in strip centers or parking lot pads.

The deal deepens the involvement of Panera’s parent company, JAB Holdings, in the bakery-cafe market, a sector dominated by Panera. In addition to that brand, JAB’s restaurant portfolio includes Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Einstein Bros., Noah’s Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Peet's Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, Intelligentsia and Mighty Leaf tea parlors.

Few of those brands, however, have a presence in nontraditional locations.

The purchase came amid rumors that JAB was looking at Dunkin’ Donuts as an acquisition target.

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