Panera Bread Company named company veteran Blaine Hurst president effective December 12, following the resignation of Drew Madsen for personal reasons.
Hurst has been with Panera since 2010 and has held a number of senior leadership positions, most recently as executive vice president—chief transformation and growth officer. He has been the driving force behind Panera’s biggest growth initiatives in the past few years, including delivery, catering and the evolution of Panera’s digital capabilities. In his new role, Hurst will drive innovation in the retail cafe business. He will continue to report to Ron Shaich, Panera’s chairman and CEO.
“Blaine has been instrumental in our multiyear efforts to transform Panera into a better competitive alternative with expanded growth opportunities,” Shaich says. “Blaine is well known and respected within the restaurant industry and the Panera family. Both colleagues and franchisees value his innovative thinking, the strength of the teams he’s built and his ability to drive transformative change.”
Hurst joined Panera in 2010 to work on the development of Panera 2.0. He was named executive vice president of technology and transformation in May 2013, and EVP—chief transformation and growth officer in October 2014. During his multiyear tenure at Panera, Hurst has been, at various times, the senior executive responsible for oversight of a range of functions, including manufacturing, supply chain, information technology, digital, human resources and consumer packaged goods. He has also successfully led major innovation projects impacting the retail cafe business.
Earlier in his career, Hurst was vice chairman and president at Papa John’s International Inc.; president—Restaurant Technology Solutions at eMac Digital LLC, an enterprise backed by McDonald’s, Accel Partners and KKR & Co.; and vice president—information services at Boston Chicken. He has also been both an entrepreneur and independent consultant, assisting many restaurant, retail, and distribution companies in their development and growth.