Panera: Upgrades, New Units Way to Fuel Growth

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St. Louis--Panera Bread Co., parent of Panera Bread and St. Louis Bread Co., sees its new unit development pipeline and such initiatives as bread upgrades and off-premises catering as fueling future growth in the wake of a 47 percent jump in second quarter earnings. However, Panera, while taking steps to drive its chains' overall top and bottom line results, also is looking at its strong average unit volume as demanding an expansion of capacity within existing restaurants. According to Panera, demand for new franchises is so strong--with a backlog of 450 franchised unit commitments already on the books--that the company has doubled the size of its development department in the last nine months, now having more than 50 people on its development team focusing on real estate, design and construction. -Nation's Restaurant News

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