Au Bon Pain finds a new owner | 2021-07-01

DALLAS – Ampex Brands, a yum! Brands, Inc. and franchisee 7-Eleven with more than 400 restaurants and convenience stores, have acquired Au Bon Pain, a fast food, bakery and cafe chain, from ABP Corp., a subsidiary of Panera Bread. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

As part of the transaction, Ampex will acquire the 171 Au Bon Pain locations as well as the franchise rights to 131 additional locations. Au Bon Pain restaurants and bakery cafes are located in the United States, India and Thailand. The addition of Au Bon Pain is expected to increase Ampex’s revenue by approximately 10% per year.

“We see a strong future for Au Bon Pain and for our broader portfolio,” said Tabbassum Mumtaz, CEO of Ampex. “Our QSR brands performed extremely well throughout the pandemic as customers drove through. This performance allowed us to diversify and seize an excellent opportunity to reposition a historic brand. The café-bakery category will rebound and Au Bon Pain is well placed to grow.

Boston-based Au Bon Pain was founded by Ron Shaich and his late partner Louis Kane in 1981. The company went public in 1991 and acquired Saint Louis Bread Co. in 1993. Saint Louis Bread was later renamed Panera Bread, and, in 1999, Au Bon Pain was sold so that all resources could be concentrated on Panera. Then, in 2017, Panera Bread, a subsidiary of JAB Holding Co., bought Au Bon Pain.

Long-time franchisee of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and 7-Eleven, Ampex will now assume the role of franchisor for the first time in its 16-year history. The acquisition also extends the company’s international presence.

Ampex said it plans to apply its operating strategy to expand Au Bon Pain’s existing cafes, starting with the brand’s key markets in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic. Once existing cafes reopen and run with positive results, Ampex said it intends to launch expansion efforts, starting with company-owned locations.

As part of the acquisition, Ampex is recruiting a new management team to lead Au Bon Pain. Ericka Garza has been appointed president of the brand. Ms. Garza has spent her career developing franchising of national and international brands of fast food restaurants, casual restaurants and convenience stores. Most recently, she has managed traditional and non-traditional national affairs as the lead franchise growth leader for Pizza Hut.

In addition, Brian Bacica has been hired as Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Bacica has spent over 30 years in the hospitality industry, including 18 years in food and beverage leadership roles for Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Parks and most recently as CEO of PEAK Event Services .

Meanwhile, Beth Collins has been named the first global marketing director at Ampex Brands. In her new role, Ms. Collins will oversee branding responsibilities for the Au Bon Pain and Ampex brands. She has been a C-level marketing veteran for over 20 years in the fast food and casual food and entertainment industries with companies including Raising Cane’s, Texas Land & Cattle / Lone Star Steakhouse, Twin Peaks and Lucky Strike Entertainment.

“The United States is reopening and our markets are coming back to life,” said Ms. Garza. “As we open our cafes, the reputation of the Au Bon Pain brand, its loyal subscribers, solid real estate and menu position the brand favorably for success. We also see opportunities in its non-traditional locations, currently in transportation hubs, airports, universities and hospitals. Smaller footprints with less seating is the future of fast-casual dining, and having a successful prototype with long-standing institutional relationships allows for flexibility as we grow.

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