Panera to hire 10,000 as it expands delivery service

Panera expects to expand delivery to 35% to 40% of stores by the end of this year.

FILE - (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(CNN) — Panera Bread plans to hire 10,000 workers and more than double the number of its restaurants that deliver.

The jobs will include both delivery drivers and in-store workers to prepare the food.

The company offered delivery at about 15% of its locations as of the end of last year. Panera expects to expand to 35% to 40% of stores by the end of this year.

“In many places across the country, all that’s available for delivery is pizza or Chinese food,” said Panera (PNRA) CEO and founder Ron Shaich. “We’re closing the gap in delivery alternatives and creating a way for people to have more options for real food delivered to their homes and workplaces.”

Delivery will be offered between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, for purchases of $5 or more, plus a $3 delivery fee in most locations.

The company had 50,800 employees at the end of last year at its 900 company-owned locations, almost all in the United States. It also has 1,100 franchise locations. The delivery option will be provided at both.

Earlier this month, Panera agreed to be purchased for $7.5 billion by JAB, a German conglomerate that also owns Krispy Kreme and the Einstein and Noah bagel chains. The deal, which still needs shareholder and regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the third quarter.