A write-up that I recently read about Panera Bread’s expansion plans provided hope within 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, high quality ingredients, convenient and competitive food offerings, and plenty of room for growth, Panera Bread Holiday Hours has evolved a formula which should help guarantee solid returns for a long time. Panera currently has 1,250 locations with wants to open yet another 80-90 locations this coming year, an increase of about 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 accepted 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 love Panera. The bread is freshly baked, the menu offerings are well-considered, the climate is inviting and warm, and also the cost is reasonable…and, I personally can’t consider a fast casual cafe chain that comes even close to winning vs. Panera on any one of those dimensions. Au Bon Pain was made on the same premise that brought Panera success – hospitality, quality, fresh baked goods – but it is, in my view, a pale comparison. Take as an example, hospitality – in Panera Bread Hours, you might be given a beeper while waiting around for your food, so there is absolutely no confusion whenever your food is prepared and even, someone behind the counter will get out of their approach to bring your food to your table. The food is served on actual plates with real silverware and also the seating includes comfortable booths and cozy armchairs. In Au Bon Pain, the silverware is plastic, the chairs are stiff and also you must bring the food for your table yourself as well as the order process involves a less personal approach of filling out a form and handing the shape to the order taker. With regards to quality and freshness, Panera also wins hands-down. The bread is served right from the oven and they also sell their baguettes to consider home, something which Au Bon Pain either does not do or will not effectively communicate it does.
Most of us know just how a hot sandwich can draw out the ingredients’ flavors – Panera knows this and provides paninis – a style of grilling sandwiches that is very popular. At Au Bon Pain, rather than paninis, it gives you ‘hot sandwiches’, which can be sandwiches which are continuously kept warm within heat lamp. If you’ve ever endured food that is certainly kept warm this way, you’ll know that it just doesn’t taste great or very fresh. To get a place that promotes the product quality and freshness of the breads, Au Bon Pain simply qxuhyp not do nearly as good a job executing. Finally, in terms of I can tell, Panera also wins on value. At Panera Bread Customer Service Phone Number, your order of a sandwich automatically features a bag of chips and a pickle thrown in and they also smartly offer a half-sandwich and soup or salad combination, popular with health-conscious customers. At Au Bon Pain, almost every ingredient is line-itemed and also you certainly don’t have the pickle…leading to some tab which 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 several private equity groups. It certainly hasn’t changed much through the years and hasn’t tried to improve its offerings in accordance with Panera’s.
Perhaps, due to its success through the years and an absence of a serious competitor, it hasn’t had to. But, let’s get real – in a health-conscious, quality, value driven economy like the one which we live in – where can you rather opt for lunch?