Panera Bread introduced Niren Chaudhary as president and CEO of the fast-casual restaurant chain. He succeeds Blaine Hurst, who will retire from his current role as CEO of Panera effective May 23, 2019. Hurst will remain on Panera’s board of directors and become vice chairman.
Hurst will also join JAB Holdings, the privately held company that owns Panera and a variety of other restaurant concepts. “We are deeply grateful for Blaine's contributions during his time at Panera. Blaine played a significant role in making Panera a leader in the industry including his tireless efforts to lead Panera through its omni channel journey including Panera 2.0, digital, delivery, catering, brand evolution and his commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Oliver Goudet, Panera chairman and JAB managing partner and CEO. “To that effect, we are excited that Blaine has agreed to join JAB to help accelerate the technology transformation of our other food portfolio brands such as Pret a Manger.”
Chaudhary joins Panera from Krispy Kreme, also owned by JAB Holdings. He served as chief operating officer and president of Krispy Kreme International since 2017. Previously Chaudhary spent 23 years with Yum! Brands in a variety of executive positions.