Great Harvest Bread Co. has completed a brand evolution to address consumer demand and resolve pain points for multi-unit franchise owners.

Over the last two years, the 43-year-old chain reinvented its menu and business model in an effort to compete with bakery-cafe giant Panera Bread. While traditionally a bakery, Great Harvest found that sales increased by adding approximately 35 seats, public bathrooms, an expanded menu and an espresso machine. The chain also employs a free form franchise model that allows each owner to choose their own pricing, decor, menu items and more.

In 2016, Great Harvest launched its hub and spoke model, which allows multi-unit owners to reach more places with smaller footprints with a central bakery-cafe that serves multiple cafe-only locations. The bakery-cafe acts as the hub, supplying fresh bread throughout the day to the spokes, or cafe-only locations, in surrounding communities. This allows franchisees to go into high-traffic areas in spaces as small as 1,500 square feet to open cafes in downtowns where competitors cannot because of the large amount of space stores with full bakery outfits require.

Since Great Harvest debuted this model, the new hub and spoke locations have grown to make up nearly 22 percent of the franchise system.

Great Harvest opened 8 new locations in 2018. From 2018 to Q1 of 2019, the chain signed 33 new format stores — 9 bakery-cafes and 24 cafes. There are more than 190 independently owned Great Harvest locations across the U.S.