Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels announced Thursday that they’ve joined forces to form Panera Brands, “a new powerhouse platform in fast-casual,” according to the company.
The combined company will have nearly 4,000 units and 110,000 employees across 10 countries.
Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary will lead the new group, while also continuing as head of Panera. Einstein Bros. CEO Jose Alberto Duenas and Caribou CEO John Butcher will report to Chaudhary while continuing to lead their brands, the company said.
No details of the new financial relationship were disclosed.
“We believe Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels together will leverage each company’s unique expertise and services to build an unrivaled fast-casual platform with a tremendous runway for growth,” Chaudhary said in a statement.
The partnership intends to leverage Panera’s “broad omnichannel retail network, strong digital infrastructure, industry-leading loyalty program, robust food innovation pipeline, world-class supply chain and access to extremely well-capitalized franchise owners” to speed growth for the Caribous and Einstein Bros. chains, the company said.
Panera got its start in 1993 when Ron Shaich acquired the 19-unit Saint Louis Bread Company, which would later become Panera Bread.
In 2017, Panera was acquired by JAB Holding Co. for $7.5 billion and became a private company.
Today, Panera has more than 2,100 bakery cafes.
Caribou, which was founded in 1992, has 713 locations in 10 countries. And Einstein currently operates 1,005 locations.
“At Einstein Bros. Bagels, our relentless focus on delivering the most craveable breakfast experience for our guests and our efforts to transform the business during 2020 allowed us to come out of the pandemic as a stronger, more profitable, and more nimble company,” Dueñas said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to seeing our powerful brand portfolio, executed with a simplified retail model and optimized for a great digital experience, continue to gain momentum.”
The merger continues an active period for JAB's restaurant concepts. It took the global coffee company JDE/Peet's public in Europe last year and took Krispy Kreme public in the U.S. this year. Panera more recently sold off Au Bon Pain to Ampex Brands. The company has been reported to be considering its own initial public offering.