Business is Really Good for St. Louis-Based Panera Bread Co.

Business is Really Good for St. Louis-Based Panera Bread Co.
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Panera Bread Is One of the Most Expensed Restaurants in US

St. Louis, MO/April 3, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – The business lunch used to mean full service and three martinis.  For some meetings, it still does.  But the leaner, faster, younger business model has moved away from such excess, and replaced it with quick service venues that don’t sell booze.  That’s according to the Certify SpendSmart™ for 2016 report just released by the corporate expense reimbursements processing firm.  Certify’s report analyzed business expense and vendor ratings data to see where business travelers are spending most while on the road.

When looking at restaurant meals, Certify found that St. Louis-based Panera Bread is one of the most frequently expensed restaurants in the nation.  The data ranked Panera as third on the list, in terms of the number of times it was listed on expense reports.  Starbucks was ranked first, and accounted for 5.2-percent of all expensed meals.  McDonald’s was number two with 2.85-percent of all meals expensed.  Panera accounted for 1.68-percent, just ahead of Subway’s 1.53-percent.

The report is based on customer submitted data that includes all meal expenses for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The data indicates which vendor is most frequently expensed, the average amount per transaction and average satisfaction ratings.  It’s worth noting that Certify found the average tab at Panera was much higher than those at Starbucks and McDonalds.  The report indicated that the average bill at the bakery-cafe chain was $42.10, while the average at McDonald’s was $9.76 and Starbucks was $12.62.  In the top 15 restaurants on the report, only Buffalo Wild Wings showed higher average tabs than Panera.

Certify also looked at which restaurants business travelers rated highest.  And again, Panera was highly ranked.  It was fifth, with a 4.3 star score on a 5 point scale.  Only Chick fil-A, Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, and Olive Garden were ranked higher.  According to Certify, meal expenses made up 19-percent of business Travel and Expense (T&E) spending in 2016.

In another sign of Panera’s success, Bloomberg reported Monday (Apr. 3, 2017) that Panera is “exploring strategic options, including a possible sale” after takeover interest.  The bakery chain has a market value of about $6.5 billion.  Bloomberg cited unnamed, inside sources in reporting that the company is working with advisors to study the options.  However, no deal has been reached.  Potential suitors are reported to include Starbucks Corp., Domino’s Inc., and Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co. (Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Bally, etc).

Panera executive are refusing comment on the matter, telling Bloomberg that it is their policy not to comment on rumors or speculation about the company.  Still, shares of Panera jumped 7.9 percent Monday, and had its highest close on record.

Panera Bread Company’s first fast-casual cafe opened in Kirkwood (St. Louis Bread Company) in 1987.  There are now more than 2,000 Panera bakery-cafes in the U.S. and Canada offering breakfast, lunch, light dinners, specialty coffees, smoothies, as well as fresh bread, bagels, and pastries.

Certify’s full report on business expense spending can be seen online here.

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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon is an experienced writer, editor, and broadcast journalist with a strong news background. She’s worked in radio and television news, and for national and international newswire services.

She began her career in public radio while still a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (where she earned a B.A. in Communications). She soon made the jump to news/talk radio, handling assignments from field reporting, airborne traffic, and news anchor, to producing and hosting daily talk shows. She’s also worked in television, most recently as the inaugural producer for The Allman Report on KDNL-TV 30, and as a news writer and reporter for national and international newswire services.