“From the first time I went into the stores, they were very dull and whatever their value proposition was not clear,” he said.
Bishop said Fresh & Easy never bridged the huge cultural gap between U.K. and U.S. retailing.
As opposed to a beautiful wet rack and a stunning leaf lettuce display, prepackaged produce didn’t have the “fresh” appeal implied in the Fresh & Easy image, said Ed Odron, owner of Stockton, Calif.-based Ed Odron Produce Marketing Consulting.
“In California the expectations were different than people saw when they walked in the store.”
Bishop said Fresh & Easy’s struggles were compounded by strange store locations that didn’t seem to properly value traffic and demographics, he said.
Goodwin said there is speculation that Wal-Mart could go after Fresh & Easy stores for a small-format store.
If Tesco is shopping its Fresh & Easy stores to U.S. retailers, Bishop said operators like Dollar General or Aldi may be interested. Aldi hasn’t yet established a foothold in California and Dollar General also is in an expansion phase.
Peterson said the locations of the Fresh & Easy stores could hold back interest from other retailers.
Bishop said small-format stores have a bright future, despite the failure of Fresh & Easy.
The consumer migration to the Internet in purchasing during the next 10 years should make smaller stores more attractive in the future, he said.