Customers patronize an open Panera Bread location at the Walt Whitman Mall on March 26, 2020 in Huntington Station, New York.
Bruce Bennet | Getty Images
Panera Bread’s parent company is switching leadership as it prepares to go public again.
The announcement, made Tuesday, confirms that the restaurant company is interested in an IPO after calling off a deal last year with Danny Meyer’s SPAC to go public again.
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The settlement would have traded USHG Acquisition stock for the sandwich chain’s stock and enabled the company to survive a merger with Panera’s Rye Merger subsidiary. However, Panera scrapped those plans in July, citing market conditions.
JAB Holding, the investment arm of the Reimann family, bought Panera Bread for $7.5 billion in 2017 and took it private. The company combined the sandwich chain with Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee to form Panera Brands.
In the press release, Panera Brands said the leadership changes are “in preparation for the eventual IPO.”
Current CEO Niren Chaudhary will step down on July 1, but plans to stay on as chairman of the company’s board of directors. Chaudhary was CEO for four years after joining the company from Krispy Kreme. JAB Holding also owned the donut chain before its IPO in 2021 and still has a 45% ownership stake, according to Factset.
Jose Dueñas, CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels, takes over from Chaudhary. Prior to joining the bagel chain in 2019, he served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In. Time is also listed on his resume Darden restaurants Olive Garden and Kellogg.
In 2022, Panera Brands sales will exceed $4.8 billion. Panera Bread, the largest chain in the portfolio, has long been known as a technology leader in the restaurant industry. Digital orders account for more than half of the chain’s total sales and the loyalty program has 53 million members. Panera Bread has also tested and AI drive-thru orders from Amazon palm scanning technology.
Panera Brands isn’t the only restaurant company to publicly talk about an IPO. On Friday, the Mediterranean fast-casual chain Cava filed for an IPO.