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Panera digital sales pass $1B a year

Bakery-café expects that figure to double by 2019

Panera Bread Co. will pass $1 billion in annualized sales through its digital mobile, web and kiosk channels this year, the company said Wednesday, and those are expected to double by 2019. 

The St. Louis, Mo.-based bakery-café chain said that, as of the end of the first quarter on March 28, systemwide digital sales hit 26 percent of total company sales, and about 1.2 million digital orders were placed each week.

“By building digital into the core aspects of our business, we’ve transformed the customer journey at Panera,” said Ron Shaich, Panera founder and CEO, in a statement. “For us, it’s not just about new technology for technology’s sake; it’s about making the guest experience better.”

Panera launched its “Panera 2.0” program in 2014, adopting such digital-based platforms as rapid pickup, fast-lane ordering kiosks, web-based catering and delivery. 

“When you couple digital innovation with operational integrity, the result is a significant level of digital adoption at the guest level,” said Blaine Hurst, Panera president, in prepared remarks. 

“Our holistic approach to technology pushes us to find new ways to make a difference in the lives of guests, which translates to the kinds of sales we’re seeing today,” Hurst said.

For the first quarter, Panera reported net income rose 21.1 percent, to $42.5 million, or $1.88 per share, up from $35 million, or $1.45 per share, the previous year. Revenue rose $727.6 million, from $685.2 million the previous year.

Same-store sales at company-owned bakery-cafés rose 5.3 percent in the quarter.

Panera has recently added new services, such as Panera Delivery, which allows customers to track their digital delivery orders. The company said in April that it would expand delivery to 35 to 40 percent of its more than 2,000 restaurants by year’s end. 

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

Many of these digital features were pioneered in the pizza segment. Panera said its digital sales were the highest outside that segment.

In early April, JAB Holding Co. agreed to pay $7.5 billion for Panera in a deal to close in the third quarter. JAB owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., Caribou Coffee, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Intelligentsia Coffee, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

As of March 28, Panera had 2,042 bakery-cafés in 46 states and Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe brands.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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