A New York City investment company has the OK from a bankruptcy judge to buy 53 pieces of property from Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets Inc. as the retail chain winds down operations seven years after Tesco PLC launched it.
Judge Kevin Carey of Delaware’s Bankruptcy Court approved the $41.5 million sale to EM-80 UAV Darko LLC, a company associated with Fortress Investment Group. The bid from Darko was the highest of 23 submitted. About 70 potential buyers had expressed interested in some or all of the parcels, according to court documents.
The judge also gave the final OK on Nov. 22 for Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Companies LLC to buy more than 150 Fresh & Easy retail stores from Tesco. Tesco is financing the sale with a $120 million loan. Another 50 stores will be closed.
The sale of the stores and the 53 pieces of other real estate came after Fresh & Easy filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late September as its parent company prepared to sell the chain. Fresh & Easy owes between $500 million and $1 billion, according to court records.
Tesco’s chief executive officer made statements in late 2012 regarding Fresh & Easy’s lack of profitability. He said the chain was not able to sustain the $1.6 billion investment Tesco had made. However, for the 12 months ending Feb. 24, 2013, Fresh & Easy generated about $1.1 billion in revenue, according to court documents.
Documents show the chain’s stores, distribution center and other assets were valued at $362.8 million, as of February. In addition to the 150 stores, Yucaipa also is buying a distribution center and a production plant in Riverside, Calif.
About 4,000 Fresh & Easy employees will transfer to work under the Yucaipa ownership, according to a news release. James Keyes, former chief executive of 7-Eleven Inc., negotiated the deal with Tesco and has been hired by Yucaipa to design a success strategy for the Fresh & Easy chain, according to the news release.
The 53 parcels of real property Darko is buying are in California, Arizona and Nevada. Twenty of the parcels have buildings, and the other 33 are land-only pad sites, end-caps and in-line locations. One property has a 44,000-square-foot building, with the other buildings ranging from 14,000 to 17,000 square feet.