Bakery-café chain previously had been a subsidiary of Panera Bread
Ampex Brands, a longtime Yum! Brands Inc. and 7-Eleven franchisee that owns 400-plus restaurants and convenience stores, has acquired 171 Au Bon Pain restaurants from ABP Corp. The acquisition also gives Ampex the franchising rights to 131 additional locations. With the addition of Au Bon Pain, formerly a Panera Bread subsidiary, Ampex’s revenue is expected to increase by an estimated 10% a year.
Tabbassum Mumtaz, CEO and founder of Ampex Brands, said his company’s quick-service restaurants “performed extraordinarily well throughout the pandemic as guests moved to drive-through. That performance allowed us to diversify and jump on a great opportunity to reposition a legacy brand. The bakery café category will rebound, and Au Bon Pain is well-positioned to grow.”
As a 16-year franchisee of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and 7-Eleven, Ampex will become a franchisor for the first time. According to a company statement, Ampex Brands has big ambitions for the bakery-café chain, which was hit hard by the pandemic. Ampex will ramp up existing Au Bon Pain café sites, with an initial focus on its key markets in mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. Once those existing cafés reopen and are performing well, Ampex Brands will begin expanding Au Bon Pain with corporate-owned locations.
In a company statement released June 29, Ampex revealed three executives who will steer the acquisition:
- Ericka Garza will serve as brand president for Au Bon Pain. Garza has spent her career growing franchising for U.S. and international quick-service restaurant brands, casual dining establishments, and convenience stores. Most recently, she managed domestic traditional and nontraditional business as the senior franchise growth leader for Pizza Hut, operated by Yum! Brands.
Garza is excited about opportunities for the bakery café. “The U.S. is reopening, and our markets are coming back to life,” she said. “Au Bon Pain’s brand reputation, loyal following, strong real estate and menu position the brand favorably for success. We also see opportunity in its nontraditional locations, currently in transportation hubs, airports, universities and hospitals. Smaller footprints with less dine-in seating are the future of fast-casual dining.”
- Brian Bacica has been tapped to be Au Bon Pain’s chief operating officer. He has more than 30 years of experience in hospitality, including 18 years in food and beverage leadership roles for Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Parks. Most recently he served as CEO of PEAK Event Services.
- And as Ampex Brands’ first global chief marketing officer, Beth Collins will oversee brand responsibilities for Au Bon Pain as well as Ampex Brands. She has spent more than two decades as an executive in the casual dining and entertainment industries, working for Raising Cane’s, Texas Land & Cattle/Lone Star Steakhouse, Twin Peaks and Lucky Strike Entertainment.
Based in Richardson, Texas, which abuts Dallas, Ampex has annual revenues of nearly $500 million, according to the company’s statement. Founded in 2005 by Mumtaz, Ampex employs about 700 people throughout its various locations. The Au Bon Pain acquisition was completed June 29. Terms of the deal were not disclosed