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What Is JAB? Owner of Panera, Snapple and Krispy Kreme Faces Its Nazi Past

Category: Business,Finance

The average person probably hasn’t heard of JAB Holding. The same can’t be said for the vast empire of brands — a stable that includes Keurig coffee pods, Dr Pepper, Snapple, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Krispy Kreme doughnuts — it amassed in years of deal-making. Here’s how the conglomerate, whose controlling family is now grappling with its Nazi past, flourished.

[Read our article about the Nazi past behind JAB Holding, and the company’s efforts to atone.]

JAB grew out of the personal fortune of the Reimann family, which founded the German chemical company Benckiser. (The company was previously known as Joh. A. Benckiser, for one of the family patriarchs.) Benckiser eventually merged with Reckitt & Colman of Britain to become Reckitt Benckiser, whose holdings include Durex condoms, Lysol cleaner and Clearasil.

In 1992, JAB bought control of Coty, a cosmetics maker, from Pfizer. Since then, it has become an industry giant, assembling an array of celebrity-backed fragrances, as well as those from well-known brands like Calvin Klein.

The company gained a new level of prominence in 2012 when it unsuccessfully bid nearly $11 billion for Avon Products, a better-known but struggling rival.

Coty itself went public in 2013. JAB still holds a 60 percent stake in the cosmetics company, which was worth about $6 billion as of Friday.

For much of the past decade, JAB has spent billions of dollars becoming a powerhouse in the beverage industry, with a strategy largely built around buying a company, then using it to roll up rivals.

JAB now owns a variety of coffee brands, from mainstream offerings like Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Keurig and the European producer Jacob Douwe Eggberts, as well as more niche coffee chains like Stumptown.

It also used Keurig to buy Dr Pepper Snapple for $18.7 billion, adding a variety of sodas and iced teas to the coffee maker’s holdings. (JAB owns about two-thirds of Keurig Dr Pepper’s shares, a stake worth about $27 billion.)

JAB has also made so called fast-casual and snack foods a big part of its empire, acquiring Krispy Kreme, Panera, and the parent of the Einstein Brothers bagel chain. Last year, it bought Pret A Manger, a British sandwich chain that is a mainstay of the London office crowd and has shops scattered around several other countries, including the United States.

JAB made its biggest misstep as part of a yearslong effort to extend its reach into the luxury fashion sector. Over the years, the company acquired brands like Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff, only to sell them off as it sharpened its focus on the more profitable food and coffee sectors.


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