ST. LOUIS — Panera Brands Inc., which includes Panera Breads, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee, established its next generation of CEO leadership and board governance ahead of its eventual IPO.
Effective July 1, José Alberto Dueñas, president and CEO of Einstein Bros., will succeed current CEO Niren Chaudhary, who will then become chair of Panera Brands. Patrick Grismer, former Starbucks CFO and independent director, will become chair of the audit committee.
During his four year tenure as CEO, Chaudhary helped strengthen the leadership for Panera Brands in its fast casual segment by expanding its digital capabilities. Panera has also increased in innovation, strengthen franchisee partnerships and people forward culture, resulting in leading retention rates for GMs and associates. Panera Brands generated more than $4.8 billion in revenue in the fiscal year 2022.
“It has been an honor to lead Panera Brands during such a transformative time for our company,” Chaudhary said. “Not only have we introduced innovative new concepts to the fast casual dining industry, but we have expanded our global footprint and formally united Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. to create one of the largest and most vibrant fast casual companies in the world. I have had the privilege of working closely together with José over the last several years, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to drive long-term value creation as chairman.”
Dueñas became president and CEO of Einstein Bros. in 2019. The company experienced major operating model simplification that materially improved the guest experience and expand digital access, this resulted in improvements in unit-level economics and overall margin expansion in his tenure. He has also served as chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In and held leadership positions with Darden Restaurants.
“I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to lead the phenomenal group of people at Panera Brands and be part of what is undoubtedly one of the most iconic brands in food,” Dueñas said. “I believe that with this incredibly dedicated team and our great franchisee partners we can continue to deliver a best-in-class guest experience, increase our positive impact in the communities we serve and accelerate key growth-driving initiatives to prepare the Company for a future public listing.”
Grismer joined the board in 2022 following a 36-year career in finance. He spent nine years as a public company CFO at Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels and Yum! Brands. His appointment is in line with long-term anchor shareholder JAB’s philosophy to form a best-in-class independent public board framework directed by industry-leading executives.