Fresh & Easy chain, including SLO store, to be sold

Los Angeles TimesApril 17, 2013 

Fresh & Easy opened its San Luis Obispo store in February 2012 at 2238 Broad St.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The parent company of Fresh & Easy has announced it's selling the grocery chain after years of blistering losses, but business will continue as usual at the San Luis Obispo location.

“We are not closing down. … Until we find a buyer, everything is normal,” said Justin Flanders, store manager for the Fresh & Easy market on Broad Street. The store, which opened in February 2012, has 15 employees.

Tesco, the largest British grocer, will attempt to sell Fresh & Easy and its 200 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. The chain launched to great fanfare in November 2007 — just before the recession and sub-prime mortgage crisis swept through the U.S., causing Americans to retreat to the security of familiar brands.

Analysts said that Fresh & Easy’s use of self-service check-out stands confused consumers used to heavy store helper presence. The chain’s lack of vouchers and coupons alienated price-sensitive shoppers. And the push toward ready-made meals weren’t compatible with local tastes.

Fresh & Easy, which employs 5,000 people, failed to make any money during its run. To abandon the project, Tesco said Tuesday it will take a write-off of 1.2 billion pounds — or $1.8 billion. Read more at latimes.com »

Tribune news assistant Julia Hickey contributed to this report.

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