How is Panera Bread adapting its catering business?

Panera is reportedly working on several initiatives to adapt its business to the post-pandemic company culture.

Panera Bread has reportedly been working on several initiatives to adapt its catering business according to how the United States (US) workforce has changed. The soup and sandwich chain reportedly suffered a decline in sales during lockdown, because the demand for the company’s catered meals, which primarily comes from companies and universities, went down as people were quarantined.

One of the initiatives that Panera has reportedly been working on is catering company meetings. According to reports, Panera’s large restaurant footprint, which includes 2,200 locations, will make this possible.

According to reports, Panera has already tested the programme with its corporate and higher education clients, and will now be introducing an option for its 40 million loyalty programme members. The chain reportedly plans to make the programme available to all its customers when they pay with credit cards. The programme will reportedly expand beyond business events to include personal celebrations, such as remote baby showers and graduations.

Furthermore, Panera has reportedly also been working on a scheduled group ordering programme for companies. The programme will reportedly allow individual employees to order and pay for their own order at a discounted price, however, the whole order will be delivered as a group order at a set day and time.

According to Chris Correnti, Panera’s Senior Vice President of Off-Premises Channels, the group ordering programme is one that will gain traction as internal cafeterias struggle to open. Correnti stated that the initiative works because people do not have the flexibility to leave the building and find other food spots.

Lastly, a survey conducted in June 2021 found that 45 percent of respondents expect to have a hybrid workforce model in the second half of 2021. Moreover, approximately one third of the company executives who participated indicated that they will be following a model that requires majority of employees to work from the office.