Panera Bread Co.’s same-store sales increased 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, but profit dipped 11 percent on special charges, the company reported Tuesday.

The St. Louis-based bakery-café operator posted net income of $43.2 million, or $1.74 per share, falling from $48.5 million, or $1.82 a share, in the same period last year. Revenue increased 3 percent, to $691.8 million, from the prior year. The company took one-time items for refranchising losses in the 2015 quarter and impairment charges in the 2014 quarter.

Same-store sales rose 2.3 percent systemwide, driven by a 3.6-percent increase at company-owned locations and a 1.1-percent increase at franchised units.

The company said same-store sales at its company-owned units rose 6.4 percent in the first 41 days of the first quarter.

Ron Shaich, Panera chairman and CEO, said in a statement: “We are confident that our results will continue to strengthen as the startup and transition costs associated with our initiatives begin to crest and our sales continue to grow.”

As of the fourth quarter, the company had completed the conversion of 410 bakery-cafés to its “Panera 2.0” platform.

Blaine Hurst, executive vice president and chief transformation and growth officer, recently told Nation’s Restaurant News that the company is intent on reducing “friction” for the customer through kiosks, online ordering and mobile ordering, as well as pick-up areas and other operational changes in the restaurants.

As of Dec. 29, the company had 1,972 bakery-cafés in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe names. Franchisees owned and operated 1,071 of those units.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
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