Panera Bread names new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

A Krispy Kreme executive is taking the top spot at Panera Bread.

Panera Bread has appointed Niren Chaudhary as president and CEO. He succeeds Blaine Hurst, who is retiring as CEO of Panera effective May 23, 2019. Hurst will remain on the board of Panera and become vice chairman, and will work alongside Chaudhary after he joins the company in early May to help ensure a smooth transition.

Chaudhary joins Panera from Krispy Kreme, where he has been the COO  and president of Krispy Kreme International since 2017. Previously Chaudhary spent 23 years with Yum! Brands in a variety of executive positions (both Krispy Kreme and Panera are owned by JAB, whose other holdings include Pret A Manager, Caribou Coffee, Bruegger’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels and others).

“Niren is a recognized industry leader with an impressive track record of establishing brands and leading companies to achieve growth in markets around the world,” said Oliver Goudet, Panera chairman and managing partner and CEO of JAB. “He is passionate about serving the people he works with as well as his customers, and has shown a keen ability to develop growth strategies that appeal to consumer needs no matter where they reside. These qualities make him perfectly suited to lead Panera into the next phase of global growth in the US and abroad, while maintaining its mission of doing good in the world and serving food as it should be.”

The retiring Hurst is a nine-year veteran of Panera Bread. He had served as the chain’s president before being appointed CEO in late 2017, succeeding founder Ron Shaich, after the company’s purchase by JAB.

“While it has been a difficult decision for me to retire, I am confident that Panera will be well-positioned for continued long-term success with Niren taking on the role of CEO,” said Hurst. “He has a proven track record of successfully growing brands in many markets around the globe while also being highly focused on culture and people. I look forward to this next chapter as Panera’s Vice Chairman and helping JAB, our majority investor, with technology initiatives and other potential projects, while also having the opportunity to spend more time with my family.”

As of March 26, 2019, Panera Bread operated 2,130 locations in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. banners.


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