Healthy eaters that don't leave their house, rejoice.
Panera Bread (PNRA) , which agreed to be acquired by JAB Holdings this month for $7.5 billion, announced on Monday that it will begin adding 10,000 in cafe workers and delivery drivers to its chain of more than 2,000 sandwich and salad shops.
The company said the move will affect 35% to 40% of its total locations, meaning delivery could very well be an option at a Panera near you by the year's end.
"Panera is doing for delivery what we did for quick service - creating an elevated guest experience end-to-end," Panera Founder and CEO Ron Shaich said in a statement. As TheStreet previously reported, Panera had delivery in about 15% of its locations by the end of 2016. By the end of 2017, it has set a target of it being in 35% to 40% of its store base.
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Delivery will be done through the company's new mobile service, Panera Delivery, and will typically be available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. In most places, a $3 delivery fee will be tacked on.
In addition, Panera is rolling out its new order tracking system, so think along the lines of the one Domino's Pizza (DPZ) made famous several years ago. Customers can follow their order from the time it's prepared to when it gets in the car, like Domino's. But, Panera President Blaine Hurst told TheStreet in an interview that the system takes it a step further because customers can track delivery drivers all the way to their homes.
And, like Uber, the delivery driver's name and photo is displayed on the app, so customers are introduced to their driver before the delivery is made.
Hurst said the tracking system is great because "you know your food is actually coming." If the driver gets caught in traffic, the customer knows and can think "OK, it'll be an extra few minutes."
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In total, Hurst said it will cost Panera $25,000 per location to roll out the new delivery services but the company expects, on average, to add $2.6 million to each store's annual revenue.
Hurst said Domino's was actually an inspiration for Panera's delivery service. Domino's mobile ordering is far above its competitors and made up 60% of its total sales in 2016.
Panera's own digital and mobile ordering app, launched in 2015, has 25 million members. And Hurst said, unlike Starbucks (SBUX) seeing congested stores since launching its mobile pickup, Panera invested a lot of time in training so its employees knew how to enhance the customer experience with mobile ordering rather than hindering it.
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