System-wide sales for Panera Bread on a stand alone basis increased 83% to $88.7 million for the first quarter of 2000 compared to $48.5 million for the first quarter of 1999. Comparable bakery-cafe sales increased 8.9% for the first quarter. This marks the 17th consecutive quarter that Panera Bread (on a stand alone basis) has had positive comparable bakery-cafe sales.
In the first quarter of 2000, there were 19 new Panera Bread bakery-cafes opened. Three of those opened were company-owned bakery-cafes and 16 were franchised bakery-cafes. As of April 15, 2000 there were 200 Panera Bread bakery-cafes opened (84 company-owned and 116 franchised bakery-cafes). Additionally, as of the end of the first quarter, there were franchise commitments in place for the development of an additional 525 bakery-cafes.
The 87 bakery-cafes opened since the beginning of 1999 are generating an average annualized sales volume of $1,672,000 as of the first quarter of 2000. The system-wide average annualized bakery-cafe volume for all Panera Bread bakery-cafes open (excluding the 2 specialty cafes) was $1,520,000 for the first quarter. This represents a 19% increase over average bakery-cafe volumes during the same period last year.
"We are very pleased with the results for the first quarter," commented Ron Shaich, chairman and CEO commented. "Our Panera Bread Company earnings more than doubled when compared to last year. The $1.67 million in annualized sales volume generated by the 87 bakery-cafes opened since the beginning of 1999 is very gratifying. We believe these volume levels are due to increased awareness of and acceptance of the Panera Bread concept in both existing and new markets. As we have stated previously, we believe that unit volume levels are the most important leading indicators of our company's future success. Elevated sales volumes drive up store level return on investment (ROI) and this ROI in turn drives franchisee confidence and unit growth and ultimately earnings expansion.''
"We are excited about our future," Shaich concluded We are on track to meet our development commitment of 68 new bakery-cafes (55 new franchised bakery-cafes and 13 new company-owned bakery-cafes) in 2000. The strength of the results in the first quarter solidifies our belief that we can meet our earnings target of $.40 per share, which represents a 74% increase in earnings per share over last year. In addition, our conviction that Panera Bread can continue to grow its earnings at 30% or more in the years beyond 2000 has been strengthened. As of the end of the first quarter, there were 84 company-owned (including two specialty bakery-cafes) and 116 franchised bakery-cafes operating in 24 states.