Panera Bread Co. has named Blaine Hurst president following the resignation of Drew Madsen, the company said Friday.
The St. Louis-based bakery-café operator said Hurst’s appointment is effective Monday. Hurst was most recently executive vice president and chief transformation and growth officer, a position he assumed in October 2014. He joined Panera in 2010.
Madsen had served as president since May 2015. The company said he was resigning “for personal reasons.”
Panera said Hurst “has been the driving force behind Panera’s biggest growth initiatives in the past few years, including delivery, catering and the evolution of Panera’s digital capabilities,” particularly the Panera 2.0 initiative.
According to a company statement, Hurst will drive innovation in the retail café business in his new role.
Hurst will report to Ron Shaich, Panera’s chairman and CEO.
“Blaine has been instrumental in our multi-year efforts to transform Panera into a better competitive alternative with expanded growth opportunities,” Shaich said in a statement.
“Both colleagues and franchisees value his innovative thinking, the strength of the teams he’s built and his ability to drive transformative change,” he added.
Before joining Panera in 2010 to work on the development of Panera 2.0, Hurst served in management roles at Papa John’s International Inc., Boston Chicken and eMac Digital LLC, an enterprise backed by McDonald’s Corp. and other companies.
Stephen Anderson, an analyst at Maxim Group equity research, said in a report Friday that “we believe the Panera 2.0 transformation remains in good hands” with Hurst’s appointment.
Anderson said Hurst led Panera’s information technology initiatives, which the analyst regarded as “emerging competitive advantage” for the operator.
“More recently, he has been instrumental in the development of delivery as a growth initiative, which we believe will provide an incremental same-restaurant sales catalyst beginning in 2017,” he added.
For the third quarter ended Sept. 27, Panera’s net income fell 1 percent on refranchising charges and tax adjustments, ending the quarter at $31.9 million, from $32.4 million the previous year. Earnings per share rose 8 percent, to $1.37, from $1.27. Revenue increased 3 percent, to $684.2 million, from $664.7 million the previous year.
Panera said third-quarter same-store sales at company-owned units rose 3.4 percent, including average check growth of 4.9 percent and a transaction decline of 1.5 percent.
As of Sept. 27, Panera had 2,024 locations, with 903 company-owned units and 1,121 franchised locations.