Ron Schaich, founder and executive chairman of Panera Bread Co., will become co-chief executive of the company with Bill Moreton, current president and CEO, the company said Thursday.
Shaich will remain chairman and Moreton will retain his title as president of the 1,541-unit fast-casual bakery-café chain.
“The transition to co-CEOs formalizes a relationship that has evolved over the last year, and is a reflection of the way in which Shaich and Moreton have been operating as partners,” the St. Louis-based company said in a statement. “This change in titles is simply a statement of their partnership and shared commitment to Panera.”
“This is the kind of partnership with Ron that I’ve always wanted. It couldn’t be better for Panera, and I personally couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to continue to share the leadership of Panera with Ron,” Moreton said.
Shaich added: “Over the last year, essentially all of my time has been spent on a range of strategic and innovation efforts for Panera. I’ve continued to find Panera the best platform I know of to make a difference in the world.”
Panera reported in February that fourth-quarter earnings were up 5.8 percent. For the quarter ended Dec. 27, 2011, profit rose to $38.6 million, or $1.31 per share, up from $36.5 million, or $1.21 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 15.8 percent, to $495.8 million, from $428.2 million in the previous year.
The company currently is searching for a new chief financial officer. Jeff Kip, Panera’s CFO and executive vice president for the past six years, was scheduled to leave the company March 15 to join IAC/InterActiveCorp.