Fresh & Easy: 'We Don't Have Plans to Close Stores'

Retailer addresses news reports for its loyal customers

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Greg Lindenberg, Online Editor

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With much talk hitting the media recently about the future of Tesco's small-format Fresh & Easy stores in the United States, the retailer addressed the issue in a recent note emailed to members of its loyalty program.

"Thank you for being a friend of Fresh & Easy," the U.K.-based retailer wrote. "We wanted to reach out to you to address numerous news and online reports about the future of our stores."

Those reports, as recently as December, stated that the company will likely sell or close its 199 Fresh & Easy stores. "It's likely, but not certain, that our presence in America will come to an end," Tesco CEO Philip Clarke told The Wall Street Journal in December. "This is a very major change for the business."

Fresh & Easy addressed such statements in its email push signed by "the Fresh & Easy team":

"Our parent company Tesco is conducting a strategic review of Fresh & Easy; they're looking at all options to find the best outcome for the neighborhood market that you--and we--have come to love. While we don't know exactly what that outcome will be, or if Tesco will continue to own the company, we're confident that Fresh & Easy can continue to be your favorite market."

The U.S. chain, which Tesco unveiled in 2007, sought to lure American shoppers with a novel store format that is bigger than a convenience store but smaller than a supermarket, and focused on fresh-food offerings.

With store mostly in the West, Fresh & Easy concluded, "We want to assure you: We don't have plans to close stores. We're still committed to providing delicious, wholesome and affordable food every day. We're still Fresh & Easy; open for business with everything that you enjoy about our store, with even more exciting things to come. That's why we're going to keep on fighting the good food fight.

"Now, more than ever, we appreciate your energy in our stores and being able to share a smile with you. We look forward to seeing you soon and thank you for your continued support."

Company spokesperson Brendan Wonnacott would not offer additional details behind the strategy and what it means in terms of the sale of the chain, but told CSP Daily News, "Throughout this process our focus is on our staff and customers. We wanted to reassure them and also introduce a new marketing campaign that we've launched this week centered on our commitment to keep 'fighting the good food fight' for delicious, wholesome and affordable food."

El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets Inc. operates approximately 200 Fresh & Easy stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and employs about 5,000 people.

( Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of Fresh & Easy.)