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Panera Proves Too Slow for Fast-Casual Success

Panera Proves Too Slow for Fast-Casual Success
Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

There are problems in Panera’s kitchens: not enough workers, inadequate equipment, and telephone orders disrupting the workflow. Customers are sometimes getting the wrong orders, and often after a long wait.

These are the sorts of snags blamed for Panera’s disappointing results. Comparable sales last quarter grew only 1.7 percent at company stores and 0.9 percent at franchised locations—and that was due to higher prices. The number of transactions dropped as customers turned away. “The competitive environment is extraordinarily red-hot,” Panera Chief Executive Ronald Shaich said on an earnings call. “You’ve got fast-food trying to beat Panera. You’ve got casual dining.”