This struggling national bakery chain has just been rescued

Large coffeehouse chains founded in the 1970s – think Starbucks, as well as others – have grown tremendously over the past five decades to become American staples. The pandemic has definitely toned down that status for some, especially coffee brands that had not sufficiently supported loyal followers during this decade (contrary to Starbucks). Fortunately, after several years of hardship, a well-known Franco-American bakery chain narrowly escaped its final fate. An unexpected fast food franchisee has just stepped in to not only resurrect this popular bakery, but give it a whole new life.

Legend has it that the French bakery equipment manufacturer, Pavailler, established Au Bon Pain in Boston in 1976 as an exhibit to demonstrate the utility of their equipment. Au Bon Pain grew steadily throughout the late 1970s with locations in New York City and Hackensack, New Jersey. Although it was not really known as a particularly large money generator, in 1993 Au Bon Pain was acquired by Panera Bread’s predecessor, St. Louis Bread Company.

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Even from then on, the Au Bon Pain brand – which describes itself as “the café of the bakery” – did not really become a motor and a shaker … although it did. is Widely regarded as a reliable device when city dwellers and airport travelers crave a basic croissant or coffee. In recent years, many Americans have seen their nearby Au Bon Pain stores either disappear altogether or be converted into Panera stores. Today, it is reported that Au Bon Pain currently has 171 locations across the United States, mostly in city centers and airports, plus nearly 80 more in India and Thailand. In recent years, rumors have circulated to suggest that the bakery chain just wasn’t high on consumer radars, while the changing tide of the pandemic has surely had an impact, too.

However, as some onlookers predicted Au Bon Pain was on the verge of collapse, a buyer intervened. Diving in the restaurant reported that on Tuesday, Ampex Brands completed the purchase of Au Bon Pain.

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Ampex Brands is a franchisee of Yum Brands, the company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC. With their Yum branded business combined with multiple 7-Eleven locations, Ampex Brands is reported to operate 400 restaurants and convenience stores. the the Wall Street newspaper reported that Ampex Brand’s purchase of Au Bon Pain includes approximately $ 60 million in assets.

It’s a change from the convenience of fast food that Ampex has turned into an annual $ 500 million business to date, but the company says it will use Au Bon Pain to deliver “quality food. superior that are also good for you ”to customers who are looking for a snack anytime of the day.

What does this mean for Au Bon Pain fans? It’s unclear how many current locations will remain active, but it actually looks like the new owner is making plans to expand the brand. Ampex itself will franchise Au Bon Pain in 131 potential new locations, starting with developing Au Bon Pain along the East Coast, taking it to locations such as hospitals, college campuses and transportation hubs. It looks like the partnership could also see Au Bon Pain products sold in some of Ampex’s 7-Eleven stores.

Ampex CEO Tabbassum Mumtaz said the loss of Panera was a gain for his company, calling the acquisition of Au Bon Pain “a great opportunity to reposition a legacy brand”. Mumtaz added: “The café-bakery category will rebound and Au Bon Pain is well positioned to grow. “

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