Struggling Bakery Chain Getting Second Life Under New Ownership

Au Bon Pain's sales suffered during the pandemic since the company had established itself largely in unconventional places like busy airports and shopping malls.

Although the gourmet bakery chain's popularity was waning and its presence had shrunk from 200 stores a decade ago to only 123 today, it already faced an unsure future before the year 2020.

The chain faltered, but last year, when it was purchased by seasoned restaurant operator Ampex Brands, it was able to get a fresh lease on life.

Au Bon Pain was purchased by Brands and a 7-Eleven franchisee last year for $60 million in assets. Since then, the brand has taken its first significant step under the new management by opening a new store in New York.

In the Queens Center shopping centre in Elmhurst, New York, the new Au Bon Pain location is located on the second floor of Macy's.

According to Restaurant Business, this is the bakery's second site inside a New York Macy's and the first of several new restaurants it plans to open in the Big Apple.

However, the chain's sales are still not in the clear. Even though Au Bon Pain's revenues increased by 17 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, they were still 43 percent lower than their pre-pandemic levels.

Au Bon Pain was sold off in 1999 so that resources could be directed toward the Panera brand, which held greater promise.

When the much larger Panera Bread once again acquired Au Bon Pain, the two brands came together once more in 2017.

The chain of French-inspired bakeries was once more sold off, this time to Ampex, when Panera combined with Einstein Bros Bagels and Caribou Coffee to become Panera Brands in 2021.

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