Panera Brands names new CEO as company preps for IPO

José Alberto Dueñas has been appointed CEO of Panera Brands.
José Alberto Dueñas has been appointed CEO of Panera Brands.

Panera Brands has named an insider as its next chief executive.

The fast-casual restaurant company, which includes Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee, named José Alberto Dueñas as CEO, effective July 1. Dueñas, who is currently president and CEO of Einstein Bros., will succeed current CEO Niren Chaudhary, who will become chairman of Panera Brands. 

The company, which generated more than $4.8 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2022, said the moves are being made in preparation for its eventual IPO. It did not give a timeline for the offering. 

Dueñas, who has led Einstein Bros.Bagels since 2019, has led a strategic transformation of the brand by focusing the business on winning breakfast and creating a culture that champions the general managers as the company’s most important leaders, Panera Brands said in release. 

During his tenure, the company executed a major operating model simplification that materially improved the guest experience and rapidly expanded digital access to the brands, resulting in significant improvements in unit-level economics and overall margin expansion.  

Previously, Dueñas served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In. He also held leadership positions with Darden Restaurants.

Chaudhary has served as CEO of Panera Brands since May 2019. Under his watch, Panera  expanded its digital capabilities, which currently account for 53% of total sales at Panera Bread, while increasing its loyalty base to 53 million members and launching an innovative loyalty subscription model that has resulted in 25% of all Panera transactions, the company stated.  Previously, Chaudhary served as COO and president of Krispy Kreme. 

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“It has been an honor to lead Panera Brands during such a transformative time for our company,” said. Chaudhary. “Not only have we introduced innovative new concepts to the fast casual dining industry, but we have expanded our global footprint and formally united Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. to create one of the largest and most vibrant fast casual companies in the world. I have had the privilege of working closely together with José over the last several years, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to drive long-term value creation as chairman.”

In other appointments, former Starbucks CFO and independent director Patrick Grismer will become chairman of the audit committee. Grismer joined the board in 2022 following a 36-year career in finance, including nine years as a public company CFO at Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, and Yum! Brands. 

His appointment is in line with JAB’s philosophy, as a long-term anchor shareholder, to establish a best-in-class independent public board framework overseen by industry-leading executives.

Panera Brands operates 3,852 locations and 120,000 employees, including franchisees, across 11 countries. sales are e-commerce) and engagement (53 MM MyPanera loyalty members as of May 2023).

As of April 25,2023, there were 2,121 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in 49 states (including the District of Columbia) in the United States and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names. 

Caribou Coffee operates 738 stores in 10 countries. Einstein Bros. Brands, consisting of Einstein Bros. Bagels, Bruegger’s Bagels, Noah’s New York Bagels and Manhattan Bagel operates 984 company-owned and licensed units across the U.S.

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