Panera to be acquired by Europe’s JAB

Associated Press


Panera is being acquired by Europe’s JAB Holding Co. for more than $7 billion, the second-largest restaurant deal made in North America in at least decades.

Americans are likely more familiar with JAB than they know. The Luxembourg investment fund has controlling interests in Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Co., Stumptown Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. The deal for Panera, however, underscores its sway over what people eat when away from home in the morning.

For days there had been speculation about a takeover at Panera, with Starbucks Corp. being suggested as the potential buyer. Starbucks appeared to shoot down those rumors this week by talking about how excited it was about the launch of a new food menu in Chicago later this month.

On Wednesday, St. Louis-based Panera revealed the buyer was JAB, which has quietly become a rival of the giant Seattle coffee brewer.

Panera Bread Co. founder and CEO Ron Shaich said a deal with JAB will allow the company to focus on growth rather than placating shareholders. If and when the deal closes, Panera will be a privately held company not required to file quarterly financial reports for investors.

Warren-based Covelli Enterprises is the largest franchisee of Panera Bread LLC with more than 300 bakery-caf s in six states. Sam Covelli, owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises, was out of town and unavailable to comment.

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