Ampex Brands plans to expand Au Bon Pain's footprint as the bakery café category rebounds.
RICHARDSON, Texas — Ampex Brands LLC, a franchisee of 7-Eleven Inc. and Yum! Brands Inc. that has more than 400 convenience stores and restaurants, acquired the Au Bon Pain brand from ABP Corp., a subsidiary of Panera Bread. The transaction was finalized on June 29.
Au Bon Pain's 171 locations will join the Richardson-based Ampex Brands family, increasing the company's revenue by approximately 10 percent annually. The deal also grants Ampex franchising rights to an additional 131 sites and expands its footprint internationally.
"We see a solid future for both Au Bon Pain and our broader portfolio," said Ampex CEO Tabbassum Mumtaz. "Our QSR brands performed extraordinarily well throughout the pandemic as guests moved to drive-thru. 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."
Post-acquisition, Ampex will assume the role of franchisor for the first time in its 16-year history. It has been a longtime franchisee of 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's.
Ampex plans to apply its operating strategy to ramp up Au Bon Pain's existing cafés starting in the brand's key markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Once existing cafés are reopened and executing with positive results, Ampex will kick off expansion efforts, starting with corporate-owned locations, according to the company.
Ericka Garza will lead the AU Bon Pain team as brand president. She has spent her career growing franchising for both domestic and international quick-service restaurant (QSR) brands, casual dining and c-store segments, and most recently managed domestic traditional and nontraditional business as the senior franchise growth leader for Pizza Hut, operated by Yum! Brands.
"The U.S. is reopening, and our markets are coming back to life," Garza said. "As we open our cafés, 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, and having a successful prototype with long-standing institutional relationships allows for flexibility as we grow."
Au Bon Pain's new leadership also includes:
Brian Bacica as chief operating officer. He has spent more than 30 years 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.
Beth Collins as Ampex Brands' first global chief marketing officer. She will oversee brand responsibilities for Au Bon Pain and Ampex Brands. Collins has more than 20 years of experience as a C-level marketing veteran in the fast casual, casual dining and entertainment industries with companies such as Raising Cane's, Texas Land & Cattle/Lone Star Steakhouse, Twin Peaks and Lucky Strike Entertainment.