Fresh & Easy up close

There's no mystery why the fledgling British-owned grocery chain unexpectedly suspended new store openings for three months - just check out one of its existing 59 locations. The other day I joined KPCC's "Off-Ramp" guy John Rabe at the Compton store, and it was not a pretty sight. The parking lot was nearly deserted, as was the store itself. During the lunch hour I counted less than a dozen shoppers - and I was the only one at the checkout area. For all the interesting ways in which F&E owner Tesco has tried to revolutionize the U.S. grocery business, they're obviously not enough to attract many customers. Stores are said to be missing sales targets by up to 70 percent, which is not hard to believe given what I saw. And F&E is getting it from all sides - the decision to hold off on new openings caught suppliers by surprise, though many of them are already ticked over the early results (not to mention the arrogant attitude of F&E honchos). From TimesOnline:

Jim Prevor, one of the most influential commentators on the supermarket sector in the US, added that Tesco's Fresh & Easy chain needed a major strategic overhaul if it was ever going to be a hit with American shoppers. He told The Times: “They are doing horribly. There's no question they have made some mistakes and they are still making them.”


Mr Prevor said that Fresh & Easy needed to give far more space to popular American brands rather than use its own brand on most products. He added that packaging had to be cut back and more staff should be American. “Americans are different from Brits and the stores will be more successful if Americans make the decisions,” he said. “Besides, Tesco could use the British team back in the UK.”

Our visit to the Fresh & Easy store is scheduled for Saturday's "Off-Ramp" at noon (repeated Sunday night at 8 p.m.)

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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