Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Confirmed: Fresh & Easy's owners will sell and exit

Fresh & Easy, the West Coast US small-format market, is to be sold.  As expected, the store's British owners, supermarket giant Tesco, have decided to cut their losses and exit the US.  An announcement today on the store's website stated:
As many of you have heard or read today, our parent company Tesco updated on the future of Fresh & Easy.  While we don’t yet know who our new owner will ultimately be, Tesco has already received interest from a number of parties including groups looking to purchase Fresh & Easy as an operating business.  We appreciate all the support and love we’ve received from our loyal customers and even though our parent company plans to leave the US, we’re pleased to confirm there are no plans to close any portion of Fresh & Easy.
Fresh & Easy had bad luck from the start, launching the operations in southern California, Arizona and Nevada just as these areas were being impacted by the housing crisis and recession. .  As they aggressively rolled out the concept, they made poor real estate decisions that resulted in store locations in the wrong areas for their target demographic. The concept was different from their competitors, but not in a way that appealed to customers. The use of self-checkouts and the heavy reliance on obscure or home brands were not popular with US shoppers.

The chain had just begun its expansion into the Bay Area when it announced its review of operations last year.  Plans for its first Marin store at the Cove Shopping Center in Tiburon were hastily abandoned (the site is now to be occupied by local operator Paradise Foods).

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