L.A. produce market enjoys slow, steady growth - The Packer

L.A. produce market enjoys slow, steady growth

07/15/2014 10:01:00 AM
Tom Burfield

At the nearby Seventh Street Market, improvements continue to be made.

In June, the market’s 33rd cooler box was in the processed of being rebuilt since the facility was purchased by Evoq Properties in 2011. Cost for each refurbishing ranges from $88,000 to $130,000, said Bob Iannessa, general manager.

“Every month we do one or two more,” he said.

Owners undoubtedly hope the improvements will enhance the value of the property, which Iannessa said is part of a portfolio of 37 properties the company has put up for sale.

Although there’s a chance the market could be torn down, Iannessa said he doubts that anyone would take out one of the largest produce markets in California.

“The market is a money maker,” he said.

If the market is taken out, it won’t be anytime soon, he said, since 90% of the tenants have five-year leases at the present facility.

Meantime, he said the company’s 2-year-old Eighth Street Market, with 32 units, “Has been struggling.”

It’s only 55% leased, he said.

Iannessa said he plans to concentrate on “getting it off the ground.”

 

Retail sea change

On the retail side, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons has purchased Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc., which owns the Vons/Pavilions stores in Southern California. And Tesco’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, based in El Segundo, south of Los Angeles, has been acquired by Ron Burkle’s Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Co.

Fresh & Easy was launched in 2007 and eventually opened about 200 stores, but the format never really caught on.

Burkle introduced the new Wild Oats line of organic products to the chain in June, and the company unveiled a marketing campaign to relaunch the chain.

Burkle is a “smart investor” who has experience in the Southern California supermarket industry, said Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting Services, Monrovia, Calif.

“I think that Ron Burkle has a better chance of making (Fresh & Easy) a success,” he said.


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