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Panera Bread to focus on digital and delivery for post-pandemic recovery

Panera Bread CEO, Niren Chaudhary reveals takeaway, delivery, drive-thru and e-commerce sales have surged during the pandemic, with these channels now significant influencers behind the food-to-go and coffee chain’s strategy

A Panera Bread store in Chicago, USA



Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary has outlined profound shifts in consumer behaviour due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking to Associated Press, Chaudhary said mask wearing and social distancing, greater convenience, and a focus on technology were likely to become long-term fixtures across the US coffee and food-to-go chain’s 2,157 stores.
 
Revealing the proportion of customers opting for takeaway or delivery had risen from 40% pre-pandemic to 85% today, with delivery growth at 150%, Chaudhary said Panera Bread would respond by adding drive-thru lanes, partnering with delivery companies, and focusing on digital sales channels.
 
More than half of Panera Bread’s sales, around $2bn, now come from e-commerce channels, Chaudhary revealed. Meanwhile, Panera Bread’s coffee subscription service, which offers unlimited coffee for $8.99 per month, has racked up 500,000 subscribers since launching in March 2020.
 
"It's not that on-premises consumption would disappear, but delivery, rapid pickup, curbside pickup and drive-thru, those kinds of things are here to stay," Chaudhary told reporters.
 
JAB Holdings-controlled Panera Bread is also reported to have recently completed an $800m refinancing, a move which could pave the way for the company to go public. Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings took Panera Bread private in 2017 as part of its $7.5bn acquisition of the company.
 
In May 2020, JAB Holdings raised €2.25bn ($2.73bn) in an IPO for its JDE Peet’s business, which was created after the merger of Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) and Peet’s Coffee in December 2019.

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