Panera Bolsters Leadership Team with New Executive Hires

    Industry News | June 18, 2020
    Panera Bread's Baja Grain Bowl on a table next to soup.

    Panera Bread

    Panera most recently brought on a new chief food innovation officer.

    Over the past several months, Panera Bread has reworked its leadership team.

    Most recently, the fast casual tapped Claes Petersson as chief food innovation officer, responsible for all culinary food innovation, in June.

    Petersson arrived from Max Burgers in Stockholm, Sweden, where he served as chief innovation officer. Before that, he was chief food innovation officer for Pizza Hut, leading culinary innovation, quality/food safety, and nutrition across more than 8,000 domestic locations. Petersson also clocked time at Sonic Drive-In as VP R&D and packaging innovation; Godiva Chocolate as VP, global research, development, and product innovation, and Campbell Soup Company in Scandinavia.

    “I’m on the planet to eat—food is my passion—and for me, the restaurant business always begins with the food,” Petersson said in a statement. “To be able to join a brand like Panera with such an outstanding pantry of ingredients with which to create—it’s exciting, and I just can’t wait to get started.”

    As announced previously, Panera brought on Eduardo Luz in May as chief brand and concept officer. He’ll oversee marketing, culinary, digital and strategy/insights for Panera.

    The former U.S. chief marketing officer at Kraft Heinz most recently worked at nutritional supplement company 8Greens as chief executive, a role he took in July 2019. He spent six years at Kraft Heinz, running its grocery business. According to AdWeek, he directed the removal of all artificial flavors and dyes from some of the company’s classic products, like Kraft Mac & Cheese. Luz also founded Springboard, the company’s platform to partner with founders and brands to disrupt the food industry.

    In April, Panera added Kathy-Jo “KJ” Payette as chief people officer. She heads up the chain’s human resources, learning and development, and internal communications departments.

    Her prior stops include chief human resources officer at Cumberland Farms and 22 years with CVS Health. “I am proud to be part of the future of an iconic brand with such a dynamic team of smart, caring people focused on making good food accessible to all,” she said in a statement. “I believe there is an incredible opportunity to make a difference and to continue to lead with purpose, and I look forward to the work ahead.”

    A month earlier, Roland Ornelas came on board as SVP, chief procurement officer. He most recently worked as chief commercial officer for Dunkin’ Brands’ supply chain cooperative NDCP, LLC, leading all aspects of strategic sourcing, program management, and equipment services. Prior to Dunkin’, he held VP roles for both Wyndham Worldwide and O’Charley’s Inc. supply chains, and worked as VP of strategic sourcing for Carlson Companies, which oversaw TGI Fridays and Pickup Stix. He’s spent time with PepsiCo, Yum! Brand’s UFPC supply chain cooperative, and Havi Global Solutions.

    In January, Panera added Gregg Waterman as chief manufacturing and supply chain officer. His most recent stop was with Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, the supply chain management group for Yum! Brands. He spent the previous 24 years at Coca-Cola. “I’m proud to join this industry-leading brand and to work with such a highly talented leadership team,” Waterman said. “I look forward to building on Panera’s rich history and transforming the supply chain to enable us to be the most customer responsive in the world and to continue the brand’s commitment to its pantry of high-quality ingredients.

    Panera brought on David Gaidos as chief food safety and quality officer in March. He was formerly VP, global quality and food safety for McCain Foods.

    Lastly, right before 2020, George Hanson arrived as SVP, chief digital officer. He worked as VP, North America E-Commerce and Retail Stores for Under Armour before.

    News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.