A post that I recently read about Panera Bread’s expansion plans provided hope in this troubling economy (see: “Panera Looks to New Venues in Expansion,” Reuters, 3/19/09). A national bakery chain with a well-developed brand name, good quality ingredients, convenient and competitive food offerings, and plenty of room for growth, Is Panera Bread Open Today has evolved a formula which should help guarantee solid returns for many years. Panera currently has 1,250 locations with wants to open yet another 80-90 locations this coming year, a rise of around 7% of its current locations. In California, Panera has just 80 locations, so there are considerable opportunities within that state alone. Since becoming wholly independent from Au Bon Pain Co. in 1999, Panera’s stock has grown thirteen fold, and in 2006, was recognized as the top performer within the restaurant category for one-, five- and ten-year returns to shareholders, so it’s success is nothing sudden – it has been growing slowly and steadily.
Personally, I adore Panera. The bread is freshly baked, the menu offerings are well-considered, the atmosphere is inviting and warm, as well as the price is reasonable…and, I personally can’t think of a fast casual cafe chain which comes even close to winning vs. Panera on any one of those dimensions. Au Bon Pain was developed on the same premise that brought Panera success – hospitality, quality, fresh baked goods – yet it is, in my view, a pale comparison. Take for example, hospitality – in What Time Does Panera Bread Start Serving Breakfast, you are given a beeper while waiting around for your food, so there is no confusion whenever your food is prepared and in some cases, someone behind the counter will go out of their approach to bring your food in your table. The food is served on actual plates with real silverware as well as the seating includes comfortable booths and comfy armchairs. In Au Bon Pain, the silverware is plastic, the chairs are stiff and also you must bring the food for your table yourself and the order process involves a less personal approach of submitting a form and handing the form to the order taker. When it comes to quality and freshness, Panera also wins hands-down. The bread is served right out of the oven and they also sell their baguettes to consider home, a thing that Au Bon Pain either does not do or fails to effectively communicate that it does.
We all know how a hot sandwich can reveal the ingredients’ flavors – Panera knows this and offers paninis – a style of grilling sandwiches that has become quite popular. At Au Bon Pain, rather than paninis, it gives you ‘hot sandwiches’, which are sandwiches which can be continuously kept warm within heat lamp. If you’ve ever had food that is certainly kept warm this way, you’ll know it just doesn’t taste excellent or very fresh. To get a place that promotes the product quality and freshness of their breads, Au Bon Pain simply qxuhyp not do as good a job executing. Finally, in terms of I can tell, Panera also wins on value. At https://www.Headquarterscomplaints.Com/Panera-Bread-Corporate-Office-Hq-Contact/, your order of the sandwich automatically features a bag of chips and a pickle thrown in and they smartly offer a half-sandwich and soup or salad combination, appealing to health-conscious customers. At Au Bon Pain, nearly every ingredient is line-itemed and you certainly don’t get the pickle…leading to a tab that is almost always$1-$2 more. So, what went wrong with Au Bon Pain? In 1999, it went public and after that got shuffled around to different private equity groups. It certainly hasn’t changed much over time and hasn’t made an effort to improve its offerings in accordance with Panera’s.
Perhaps, owing to its success over time and too little a serious competitor, it hasn’t needed to. But, let’s get real – in a health conscious, quality, value driven economy like one that we live in – where would you rather opt for lunch?