ST. LOUIS — The board of directors of Panera Bread Co. has approved a new three-year share repurchase program of up to $600 million. The new program will replace an existing program that was scheduled to expire on June 4, 2017. Since 2009, Panera has returned $1.3 billion to shareholders through its share buyback programs, which equates to nearly 30% of average shares outstanding over the corresponding period.
“We are very pleased with the progress we are making in our long-term strategy to become a better competitive alternative in our cafes by reducing friction through Panera 2.0 and activating innovation in our food, marketing, operations and store design, while building runways for expanded growth in high-potential, adjacent businesses like delivery, catering and consumer packaged goods,” said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive officer. “Consistent with our strategy, we are working to deliver shareholder value and fund our strategic initiatives through several value-enhancing efforts, including our share repurchase program. We remain committed to continuing to return cash to shareholders. This new authorization reflects our continued confidence in our progress and our belief in our ability to drive shareholder value in the medium and long term.”