U.S. retail scene proves not so easy for Tesco - The Packer

U.S. retail scene proves not so easy for Tesco

04/19/2013 09:56:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Pamela Riemenschneider, Retail EditorPamela Riemenschneider, Retail EditorSAN JOSE, Calif. — Like many retail industry observers, I’ve watched Tesco’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market since it opened five years ago.

I’ve had several opportunities to visit stores in person, most recently on a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I picked out a couple of Fresh & Easy stores to visit, since I heard they were circling the drain, despite assurances they were “Still Fighting the Good Fight.”

Well, even if it was a good fight, the stores — and their shoppers — appear to have lost.

Tesco issued a news release April 17 saying it planned to close its 200 Fresh & Easy stores.

“Based on our progress so far with our strategic review of Fresh & Easy, including the indications of interest received from third parties, we have confirmed that the outcome of the review will be an exit from the United States,” Tesco officials stated in the release.

“As such, Fresh & Easy has been treated as a discontinued operation within these results.”

Just about everyone who regularly reads my stuff knows I was an F&E cheerleader. I loved their concept and their offerings — I just didn’t love where they chose to put stores.

Not-so-fresh

I mapped out a Fresh & Easy on the way to the hotel for the Produce for Better Health Foundation Board Meeting in downtown San Francisco. You know what’s annoying? The stores didn’t open ’til 9 a.m.

Strike 1.

I had to sit and wait for a half hour for this location — which was in an urban area on the bottom floor of a newly built residential building — to open. This is prime real estate — except the neighborhood was not so great.

When the store finally opened, there were several people outside waiting. That’s a good sign, right?

Wrong.

They went straight for the mark-downs and bought a bunch of half-price bacon.

Well, that was pretty smart of them, but they didn’t really buy anything else.

The store’s shelves were Old Mother Hubbard stuff. There were a few employees on duty doing some stocking but at least half of the shelves were empty.

A few things I looked at were either expired or were expiring in the next two to three days. I picked up some water and snacks to have in my hotel room and left, feeling pretty bad for this store’s future.


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