Panera to Add 10,000 New Delivery Jobs

Panera Bread on Monday said it would add more than 10,000 new delivery jobs by the end of the year, as it expands the service to as much as 40 percent of its restaurants.

The bakery-cafe chain, which has agreed to be purchased by JAB Holdings in a deal valued at about $7.5 billion including debt, at the end of 2016 offered delivery at 15 percent of its 2,036 restaurants.

The expansion comes as U.S. restaurant chains fight to woo more customers amid a tough traffic slump and intense competition.

Delivery adds about $5,000 to weekly sales at each cafe, a boost of around 10 percent, Panera President Blaine Hurst told Reuters.

"We're selling more food," said Hurst, who added that about 80 percent those new sales are from new customers or existing customers who are increasing the frequency of their purchases.

While McDonald's USA, Jack in the Box, P.F. Chang's China Bistro and other chains depend on partners like UberEats, DoorDash, Seamless and GrubHub to provide delivery, Panera is running the business in house.

Hurst said 75 percent of the new jobs will go to drivers, who use their own cars. The remaining positions will be in food preparation, he said.

Delivery companies, many of which own the data they collect about consumers who order food through their sites, make money by charging restaurant partners a commission of 10 percent to 30 percent. Some also add separate delivery fees for diners.

Panera introduced delivery in early 2015. Delivery is integrated with the company's digital and mobile services and linked to its MyPanera loyalty program, which allows its 25 million members to save their favorite menu items, earn and track rewards, and receive personalized offers.

Panera said cafes will generally deliver between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., often for a $3 delivery fee.

Panera also is introducing a new order tracking system from Bringg that sends users a picture of their driver, provides delivery status updates and notifications when orders have arrived.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Chris Reese)