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Panera to expand in-house delivery

Company will offer service in up to 40 percent of units and add 10,000 employees

Panera Bread Co. will expand delivery to 35–40 percent of its more than 2,000 restaurants by the end of the year, and add more than 10,000 in-store and delivery driver jobs, the company said Monday. 

The St. Louis-based bakery-café chain said it was expanding its delivery reach, which at the end of 2016 was available in 15 percent of systemwide units.

Panera, which in April agreed to be sold to JAB Holding Co. for $7.5 billion, said its new “Panera Delivery” platform, based on digital and mobile ordering, generally provides lunch and dinner to locations within an eight-minute drive of a restaurant. 

“In many places across the country, all that’s available for delivery is pizza or Chinese food,” said, Ron Shaich, Panera chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We’re closing the gap in delivery alternatives and creating a way for people to have more options for real food delivered to their homes and workplaces.”

Panera introduced delivery in 2015 and expanded it in 2016, integrating it into the MyPanera loyalty program, which has grown to 25 million members.

Panera said restaurants will generally deliver between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, with a $5 minimum order. A $3 delivery fee is added in most locations, the company said.

The company is also rolling out a new order-tracking system, based on Bringg technology, which lets guests track delivery orders. Customers can see the expected arrival time, follow the delivery’s progress on a map, see a picture of the driver and receive a notification when the driver is arriving.

Panera is hiring its own drivers in company-owned and franchised markets across the country. It had tested third-party delivery companies in some markets.

“Hiring our own drivers was the only way we could ensure that our delivery guests get the same high-quality experience they have come to expect from our bakery-cafés,” said Blaine Hurst, Panera’s president, in prepared remarks.

Panera’s net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27 rose 2 percent, to $44 million, or $1.92 per share, from $43.2 million, or $1.74 per share, the previous year. Adjusted for one-time items, Panera earned $2.05 a share, compared with $1.88 a year ago. Revenue increased 5.1 percent, to $727.1 million, from $691.8 million the previous year.

Fourth-quarter same-store sales increased 0.7 percent systemwide. Same-store sales at company-owned units rose 3 percent, but fell 1.4 percent at franchised restaurants. 

As of Dec. 27, Panera had 2,036 bakery-cafés in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada. Of those, 902 units were company owned and 1,134 locations were franchised.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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