Panera Bread Company (Nasdaq:PNRA) announced July 20 agreements with three new franchisees to develop a total of 43 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in 5 states. Lee Howley, John Sapp, and Barry Thalden will each open 20, 13, and 10 bakery-cafes, respectively, with the first store scheduled to open in Cranston, R.I., in the fourth quarter this year by Howley.

Ron Shaich, Panera chairman and chief executive officer, said, “We are proud to officially welcome Lee, John, and Barry to the Panera Bread family. As we continue to expand our franchise, we are confident in our ability to sustain rapid earnings growth and enhance shareholder value.”

Howley’s territories include Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut. Howley started his own real estate brokerage and development company in 1981 and recently served as Co-Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Sapp, a Taco Bell franchisee for ten years, will open bakery-cafes in north Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff, Arizona. Thalden will operate stores in Clark County, Nevada, including metropolitan Las Vegas. Thalden is an architect and real estate developer with offices in Las Vegas. Both Sapp and Thalden are scheduled to open their first bakery-cafe in March 2001.

Panera Bread owns and franchises bakery-cafes. The company operates under the Panera Bread and Saint Louis Bread Co. names. Panera Bread currently has 87 company-owned bakery-cafes and 133 franchised bakery-cafes in 25 states.

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