Panera to expand delivery efforts

panera mediterranean veggie sandwich

Panera Bread said it will invest even further in delivery and catering in the coming year, with plans to bring delivery capabilities to more than 10 percent of its system in 2016.

The chain will use in-house delivery drivers at those 200 units, rather than employ a third-party service as many of its competitors have done. Panera said it will continue keep those capabilities in-house as it rolls out delivery to most of its bakery cafes.

“While many others in our industry view delivery as a modest play for those few customers seeking the ultimate inconvenience without regard to price, we see delivery as a mass-market, high-sales opportunity,” CEO Ron Shaich said on a Wednesday earnings call.

Twenty-five units currently offer in-house delivery, which Panera had been testing in select markets during recent months. 

The chain continues to double down on delivery hubs for large-scale orders, which serve as a linchpin in its plan to drive the catering segment of the business forward. Catering sales at the chain were up 16 percent during Q4, which Shaich said was the largest catering sales growth the chain had seen in two years.

Comps at Panera increased 2.3 percent year over year in Q4, while net income fell 11 percent.

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