Still, Panera has had been able to lean on the expertise of sister brands under the JAB umbrella—and vice versa. The company owns several coffee concepts, including Peet’s Coffee and Caribou Coffee. That was useful when researching ways to revamps Panera’s coffee offerings, Wegiel says. Even so, JAB urged Panera to strengthen its self-branded coffees, not adopt the banner of another JAB brand.
Moving forward, Panera wants to create more access points into the brand. To that end, the company will expand traditional and nontraditional stores. Wegiel wouldn’t share specific store growth projections but says there is “ample room” to add both international and domestic units. Likewise, Panera will go deeper on its lines of consumer packaged goods. Customers can currently find salad dressings, soups, breads, and coffee in grocery store aisles. But the brand thinks it can expand both the number of products and the number of distribution points.
“CPG in our minds can be a significant lever of new growth,” he says. “I think we’re just scratching the surface.”
Panera has long been a holdout when it comes to the third-party delivery services that have transformed much of the restaurant space. The company has offered in-house delivery for years. But in late August, the chain announced new partnerships with DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats that expanded delivery choices across 1,600 of its 2,300 or so stores. The brand believes adopting those services will help recruit new customers.
“We’ve been in delivery for the better part of five years,” Weigel says. “We realized and heard from the aggregators that there was an entire segment of customers that wanted Panera, but their primary source or delivery was the aggregators and we weren’t there.”
Whether in delivery, a reimagined breakfast menu or CPG options, Panera is working to reach customers across multiple dayparts and occasions.
“We know there’s tremendous demand for the brand, some of which is very pent up,” Weigel says. “There are areas consumers want us where we’re not.”