DALLAS — Ampex Brands, a Yum! Brands, Inc. and 7-Eleven franchisee with more than 400 restaurants and convenience stores, has acquired fast-casual restaurant, bakery and cafe chain operator Au Bon Pain from ABP Corp., a subsidiary of Panera Bread. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
As part of the transaction, Ampex will acquire Au Bon Pain’s 171 locations as well as franchising rights to an additional 131 locations. Au Bon Pain’s restaurants and bakery cafes are located in the United States, India and Thailand. The addition of Au Bon Pain is expected to boost Ampex’s revenues by approximately 10% annually.
“We see a solid future for both Au Bon Pain and our broader portfolio,” said Tabbassum Mumtaz, chief executive officer of Ampex. “Our QSR brands performed extraordinarily well throughout the pandemic as guests moved to drive-thru. That performance allowed us to diversify and jump on a great opportunity to reposition a legacy brand. The bakery cafe category will rebound, and Au Bon Pain is well-positioned to grow.”
Based in Boston, Au Bon Pain was created by Ron Shaich and his late partner Louis Kane in 1981. The company went public in 1991 and acquired Saint Louis Bread Co. in 1993. Saint Louis Bread was then renamed Panera Bread, and, in 1999, Au Bon Pain was sold so all resources could be focused on Panera. Then, in 2017, Panera Bread, a subsidiary of JAB Holding Co., reacquired Au Bon Pain.
A longtime franchisee of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and 7-Eleven, Ampex will now assume the role of the franchisor for the first time in its 16-year history. The acquisition also expands the company’s footprint internationally.
Ampex said it plans to apply its operating strategy to ramp up Au Bon Pain’s existing cafes, starting in the brand’s key markets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Once existing cafes are reopened and executing with positive results, Ampex said it intends to kick off expansion efforts, starting with corporate-owned locations.
In line with the acquisition, Ampex is bringing on a new management team to lead Au Bon Pain. Ericka Garza has been named brand president. Ms. Garza has spent her career growing franchising for both domestic and international QSR brands, casual dining and c-store segments. Most recently, she managed domestic traditional and nontraditional business as the senior franchise growth leader for Pizza Hut.
Additionally, Brian Bacica has been hired as chief operating officer. Mr. Bacica has spent more than 30 years in hospitality, including 18 years in food and beverage leadership roles for Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Parks and most recently as CEO of PEAK Event Services.
Meanwhile, Beth Collins has been named as the first global chief marketing officer at Ampex Brands. In her new role, Ms. Collins will oversee brand responsibilities for both Au Bon Pain and Ampex Brands. She is a 20-plus-year C-level marketing veteran in the fast-casual, casual dining and entertainment industries with companies such as Raising Cane’s, Texas Land & Cattle/Lone Star Steakhouse, Twin Peaks and Lucky Strike Entertainment.
“The US is reopening, and our markets are coming back to life,” Ms. Garza said. “As we open our cafes, Au Bon Pain’s brand reputation, loyal following, strong real estate and menu position the brand favorably for success. We also see opportunity in its nontraditional locations, currently in transportation hubs, airports, universities and hospitals. Smaller footprints with less dine-in seating are the future of fast-casual dining, and having a successful prototype with long-standing institutional relationships allows for flexibility as we grow.”