Panera Shifts C-Suite Leadership

The changes are in preparation for its eventual IPO.

May 24, 2023

ST. LOUIS—Panera Brands Inc., which includes the Panera Bread brand, as well as Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee, announced leadership changes in preparation for its eventual IPO. Current CEO Niren Chaudhary will become chairman of Panera Brands, handing the CEO reins to José Alberto Dueñas, currently president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels, effective July 1, 2023. Former Starbucks CFO and Independent Director Patrick Grismer will become chairman of the audit committee.

Under Chaudhary’s leadership, Panera expanded its digital capabilities, which today account for 53% of total sales, and increased its loyalty base to 53 million members. Panera also added an additional loyalty subscription model, Unlimited Sip Club, with 25% of all Panera transactions now coming from the program. Panera Brands generated more than $4.8 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2022.

Dueñas, since becoming president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels in 2019, increased the brand’s focus on the breakfast daypart and created a culture that champions the general managers as the organization’s most important leaders. During his tenure, the company executed a major operating model simplification and expanded digital access to the brands, resulting in significant improvements in unit-level economics and overall margin expansion, according to the company. Previously, he served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In and held leadership positions with Darden Restaurants.

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.

QSRs are attempting to up their level of convenience, as Forbes recently reported that convenience stores could be taking market share from quick-serve restaurants. Panera recently opened an updated urban store format in New York and opened its first Panera To Go in New York after a successful pilot in 2022. The Panera To Go format lacks dine-in seating and offers only Rapid Pick-Up and delivery shelves.