Panera Bread may go public again after the pandemic made it determine how to be ‘better and stronger’

Panera Bread.
Panera Bread. Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • JAB Holdings just completed an $800 million refinancing of restaurant chain Panera Bread: DealBook.
  • That may pave the way for Panera to return to the public market after going private in 2017.
  • Panera used the pandemic to become “better and stronger,” the chain’s CEO said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Panera Bread may be looking to go public – again.

Panera-owner JAB, the holding company with chains such as Krispy Kreme and Caribou Coffee in its portfolio, completed an $800 million refinancing deal of the restaurant this month, and that could open Panera’s path back to the public markets, The New York Times DealBook reported Wednesday.

JAB declined to comment on the matter. Panera, which has more than 2,000 locations in the US, went private in 2017 after 26 years as a publicly traded company, when JAB bought the business in a $7.5 billion deal.

If Panera were to go public, it may happen with or without an initial public offering, DealBook said, noting that JAB has taken its holdings public through both traditional IPOs and mergers.

SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are one path private businesses can take to the public market, and restaurant SPACs have been booming so far this year, Insider reported previously.

Read more: 
These are the 9 new restaurant SPACs to know, as they raise millions to take restaurant chains and hospitality tech brands public

Panera did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on going public.

In an April 25 interview with the Associated Press, Panera Chief Executive Officer Niren Chaudhary said the pandemic forced the company to determine how to become “better and stronger.”

The company’s shift to e-commerce, and customer desire for convenience were “irreversible” trends that emerged during the pandemic, the CEO said. Now, 85% of customers opt for carryout or delivery options, compared to 40% pre-pandemic, the AP reported.

“It’s not that on-premise consumption would disappear, but delivery, rapid pickup, curbside pickup and drive-thru, those kinds of things are here to stay,” Chaudhary said to the AP.

Just this month, Panera announced a partnership with Adobe to help the chain improve its mobile-ordering and curbside pickup experience. Adobe will collect data from customer orders to help smooth out the ordering process and suggest re-ordering the same items.