ST. LOUIS-Panera Bread Co. reported Tuesday that same-store sales for bakery-cafes that have been in operation for at least 18 months increased last month by 10.3% for the four weeks ended May 17. Of that, company-owned bakery-cafe sales increased 9.1%, while franchised units spiked 10.7%. Panera also reported that overall same-store sales this year have grown 7.3%.

Contiguous with its expansion plans, the bread company announced today a franchise agreement with Pangenera LLC for expansion in California. The group plans to develop 15 bakery-cafes in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties by 2010. “We are confident that we will quickly establish Panera Bread as the leading bakery-cafe on the West Coast,” said Mike Kupstas, senior vice president and chief franchise officer of Panera Bread.

Last week, Panera announced the bakery-cafe retailer entered into agreements with Manna Development Group LLC and Trigo Bread Co. LLC to open stores along the West Coast and in the Midwest. Manna Development signed its initial agreement in 2002 with a commitment to open 15 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in North San Diego and has plans to open an additional 10 bakery-cafes in South San Diego by 2012. Trigo Bread plans to open 15 bakery-cafes in Southern Michigan and will open an additional six bakery-cafes in Ohio counties adjacent to the franchisee’s current markets.

Panera executives expect fourth quarter 2005 openings to reach 56 (23 company and 33 franchise) compared to 41 (15 company and 26 franchise) in the fourth quarter of 2004. In total, the company plans to open 70 company and 80 to 90 franchise locations in 2005.

On May 17, Panera Bread reported that earnings per diluted share increased 42% to $0.44 for the quarter ended April 19, 2005 compared to $0.31 per diluted share for the quarter ended April 17, 2004. Net income for the quarter ended April 19, 2005 increased 47% to $13.9 million compared to $9.5 million for the same period in the prior year.

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