Ampex Brands, a Yum! Brands Inc. and 7-Eleven franchisee with more than 400 restaurants and convenience stores, announced it acquired Au Bon Pain from ABP Corporation, a subsidiary of Panera Bread. The deal was finalized on June 29.
Au Bon Pain’s 171 locations will join the Ampex Brands family and increase the company’s revenue by approximately 10 percent annually. The acquisition also grants Ampex franchising rights to an additional 131 locations.
“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.”
A longtime franchisee of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, and 7-Eleven, Ampex will now assume the role of the franchisor for the first time in its 16-year history. The acquisition also expands the company’s footprint internationally.
Ampex will apply its successful 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.
Mumtaz has assembled a diverse team of franchise and operations experts to lead the Au Bon Pain brand, including Ericka Garza as brand president. Garza has spent her career growing franchising for both domestic and international QSR brands, casual dining and C-Store segments. Most recently, she managed domestic traditional and nontraditional business as the Senior Franchise Growth Leader for Pizza Hut, operated by Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company.
“The US is reopening, and our markets are coming back to life,” said Garza. “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 will also include Brian Bacica as chief operating officer. Bacica 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 and most recently as CEO of PEAK Event Services.
Beth Collins will serve as Ampex Brands’ first global chief marketing officer, overseeing brand responsibilities for both Au Bon Pain and Ampex Brands. Collins is a 20-plus-year 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.
Since its founding in 2005, Ampex has built its name as a franchisee, with a booming portfolio of brands in the C-Store and QSR segments. Today, the company boasts revenues of nearly half a billion dollars, with aggressive growth plans to expand into additional corporate-owned, franchisor businesses.