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Panera Brands appoints José Alberto Dueñas as CEO ahead of planned IPO

Dueñas will become CEO of the JAB Holding-managed coffee and food-to-go group on 1 July 2023 and will ‘accelerate key growth-driving initiatives’ to prepare Panera Brands for a future public listing

Panera Brands comprises nearly 3,900 stores across the Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee chains | Photo credit: Panera Bread

Panera Brands, which operates the Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee chains, has appointed José Alberto Dueñas as its new CEO as it prepares for a future public listing. 

Dueñas has served as President and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels since 2019, where he is credited with executing ‘a major operating model simplification’ which resulted in ‘significant improvements in unit-level economics and overall margin expansion’. 

Panera Brands said it was establishing ‘its next generation of CEO leadership’ in preparation for its eventual IPO, but did not give a timeline for the offering. 

In July 2022, Panera Brands put its IPO plans on hold after ending its partnership with hospitality investor USHG Acquisition Corp (HUGS) due to ‘unfavourable capital market conditions’. 

“I’m truly honoured to have the opportunity to lead the phenomenal group of people at Panera Brands and be part of what is undoubtedly one of the most iconic brands in food. I believe that with this incredibly dedicated team and our great franchisee partners we can continue to deliver a best-in-class guest experience, increase our positive impact in the communities we serve and accelerate key growth-driving initiatives to prepare the company for a future public listing,” said Dueñas. 

Dueñas, who will assume the Panera Brands CEO role effective 1 July 2023, succeeds Niren Chaudhary who in turn will become Chairman of the coffee and food-to-go group.  

Chaudhary became CEO of Panera Bread in May 2019 and was promoted to CEO of Panera Brands in August 2021 after Luxembourg-based private equity firm JAB Holding created the new business group

In a press release, Panera Brands said Chaudhary had successfully expanded Panera Bread’s digital capabilities, which account for 53% of the food-to-go and coffee chain’s total sales, while increasing its loyalty base to 53 million members. Chaudhary also spearheaded Panera’s loyalty subscription model, with 25% of all Panera transactions coming from Unlimited Sip Club members.  

Panera Brands, which generated revenues exceeding $4.8bn in 2022, has also appointed former Starbucks Chief Financial Officer and Independent Director Patrick Grismer as Chairman of its Audit Committee.   

The coffee and food-to-go group comprises 2,121 Panera Bread bakery-cafés across the US and Canada, 984 Einstein Bros. Brands stores and 738 Caribou Coffee outlets across 10 countries. The businesses are independently operated. 

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