The Pundit & the Pirate

Hollywood store opens; observer asks is Fresh & Easy success in the stars?

Published in CSP Daily News

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- As Tesco's U.S. offering, Fresh & Easy, made its Hollywood debut earlier this week, complete with celebrity lookalikes, one food industry observer said that "Tesco has yet to prove the viability of the Fresh & Easy concept." Jim Prevor, aka The Perishable Pundit, commented, "We would expect some major revamps to the concept in the months ahead. The commitment has been substantial, so Tesco will go to great extremes to juggle the variables and get the offer right. But there is no assurance that this size footprint is viable."

But he added, "You have to tip your [image-nocss] hat to the courage of the Tesco executives who decided to launch without a trial. In America, we call that kind of gutsy move a 'brilliant or bankrupt' strategy. A lot of suppliers are counting on Tesco's executives to be brilliant."

During the opening ceremony, Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason officially opened the store by placing his hands in wet cement and cutting a filmstrip before customers entered the store. Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow, Paris Hilton and Marilyn Monroe lookalikes made cameos and joined in the opening celebration. Employees selected The Children 's Hospital of Los Angeles to receive a donation from El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc., and representatives from the organization were presented with a check during the ceremony.

Fresh & Easy currently has 33 grocery/convenience markets open throughout Southern California and in Nevada and Arizona. The company is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Tesco, one of the world 's largest international retailers, which has invested $2 billion over five years in Fresh & Easy.

Anecdotal evidence in the form of many emails about empty aisles, as well as other intelligence, has led Prevor to say it "seem likely to indicate that sales are not strong. Several suppliers have also told us that orders are well below their expectations and at least some primary suppliers have thought the business not worth the trouble and stepped back into secondary supplier roles."

Click hereto read The Perishible Pundit's full report.

Also, click here to view blog Curbed Los Angeles' coverage of the Hollywood store opening.