JAB Holding Company Buys Panera

A Panera restaurant during winter

                                               JAB Holding Company Buys Panera

On Wednesday, the privately held company JAB acquired the Panera restaurant chain for $7.5 billion. The history of JAB Holding Company is very interesting. As a European family business, it spent over $40 billion building its own coffee empire. Since 2012, JAB has bought Peet’s Coffee, Caribou Coffee and Keurig Green Mountain, all American brands. It also blended two other companies, D.E. Master Blenders 1753 with Mondelez and created the well-known Jacobs Douwe Egbert. After that, JAB also bought Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia, two high-end coffee retailers.

JAB continues to expand

It seems like JAB wants to keep on expanding its business. This actually represents the investment branch of a family from Germany, called Reimann. They are heirs to the company Joh. A. Benckiser. Its acquisitions are far more numerous. For example, in 2014, JAB acquired bagel chain Einstein Brothers. And last year, it bought Krispy Kreme, the doughnut chain, for $1.35 billion.

As for Panera, it is a very popular fast serving chain which currently has 2,000 locations and sells salads, sandwiches, soups and many other baked specialties. Panera is also one of the few chains who offer a rather healthier alternative, refusing to use high fructose corn syrup in their food. Panera’s personable chief executive, Ron Shaich, said that the JAB deal attracted him because of the change to take his company private. At 63, Shaich is expected by many to try and minimize his role at the company after about twenty years of hard work and moments of struggle. Still, according to what he is saying, he will keep on leading Panera.

Fighting the giants

With its latest acquisitions, JAB can now hope and really have a chance at fighting giants like Nestle and Starbucks. However, those big companies have gone through some changes of their own. At Starbucks for example, the former chief executive Howard Schultz stepped down to focus on other things, among them being a personal coffee business. The current chief executive, Kevin Johnson, is not really familiar with coffee because his entire career was focused on technology.

Time will tell if JAB will indeed manage to scare the competition a little, with all those costly acquisitions and with its big dreams. After all, it is good to dream, and when you have the resources to make your dreams come true, you might just succeed.

Image source: flickr

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