Panera Names Pepperidge Farm's Michael Simon as Head of Marketing

Casual-Dining Chain Reports Same-Store Sales Up 7%

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CHICAGO ( -- Panera has tapped Michael Simon as senior VP-marketing and chief marketing officer, Chairman-CEO Ron Shaich said during the company's third-quarter earnings call today. Mr. Simon was previously general manager-snacks division at Pepperidge Farm.

"We sifted through 600 potential candidates to arrive at Michael," Mr. Shaich said during the call. "His demonstrated success as a marketing and management leader in retail and packaged goods, as well as his clear fit with our cultural values, makes him a highly valued addition to our team."

In addition to the new executive, Mr. Shaich also announced same-store sales up 7% at company-owned stores, and up 6% at franchised stores. Panera competes in the white-hot fast-casual segment, which has sidestepped some of the pain experienced first by casual dining, and now by some in the fast-food segment. The popular purveyor of coffee and cinnamon-crunch bagels is one of the best-performing players in the category. What's more, Panera has eschewed price cuts amidst the value-driven environment and catered to Americans who still have jobs.

The post may be an excellent fit for Mr. Simon, who is no stranger to high-end. He comes from Pepperidge Farm, a premium brand within the Campbell Soup portfolio, but during his 17 years with the company, he also worked for its upscale Godiva chocolate brand. He was VP-marketing for Pepperidge Farm's fresh bakery business before embarking on a five-year stint as general manager-snacks. At Pepperidge Farm, Mr. Simon will be succeeded by Ed Carolan, senior VP-general manager of snacks.

Mr. Simon will assume responsibility of Panera's measured-media spending of $24 million in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Panera's creative agency is Mullen, Boston. Maxus North America has the company's media business, out of its New York office. Pepperidge Farm, including all brands, has a very similar measured-media spending of $24 million during 2008, according to TNS.

Mr. Simon's predecessor, Michael Markowitz, left the company for his own consulting practice, Michael Markowitz & Associates. Panera is also on the hunt for a new VP-marketing, to replace Ed Valle, who left in September.

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