Saturday, May 24, 2008

Upcoming New Markets Special Report: The Changing 'Face' of Retailing in Bakersfield, California

Fresh & Easy Buzz Editor's Note: Fresh & Easy Buzz has been chronicling and writing about the new markets Tesco plans to move into soon with its small-format, convenience-oriented Fresh & Easy combination everyday low-price basic grocery and fresh foods stores.

Currently, Tesco operates 61 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery stores--which average about 10,000 -to- 13,000 square feet--in Southern California, the Phoenix Metropolitan/ East and West Valley regions in Arizona, and in the Las Vegas, Nevada Metro area.

Thus far, we've reported Tesco's plans to move into the California Markets of Santa Barbara-Lompoc-Oxnard--which is still in Southern California but distinct from its current Fresh & Easy store locations which range from San Diego in the south, to Los Angeles--Bakersfield and Fresno in the southern Central Valley, Modesto in the northern San Joaquin Valley, and Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California.

We've also reported Tesco will open a Northern California distribution center in Stockton, which is about 30 miles north of Modesto, about 40 miles from Sacramento, and about 70 miles from San Francisco, to serve its Central Valley and Northern California stores.

For a chronology of the reports, stories and analysis Fresh & Easy Buzz has written on Tesco's long but rapid march from Southern California north, you can view the piece here.

This piece, "Fresh But Never Easy: Tesco's Long But Rapid South-North March in the Nation-State of California," has links on it to Fresh & Easy Buzz stories and analysis on each of the cities/market regions mentioned above. Just look at the bottom of the story linked here.

We also reported here yesterday, Tesco plans to open its first Fresh & Easy grocery store in the northern Nevada city of Sparks, which is next door to Reno. When this store opens next year it also will mark the retailers beginnings of its Nevada march, from the Las Vegas Metropolitan region in southern Nevada, where it currently operates about 12 stores and plans to open 10 more, north into the Reno-Sparks Metro region.

Tesco will most likely open the first of its Central Valley and Northern California stores--five in Bakersfield and Fresno respectively, one in Modesto, 19 in the Sacramento Metro region, and 18 in the San Francisco Bay Area thus far--starting early next year. It is possible a few of the stores could open by the end of this year, but early 2009 is most likely the case.

Fresh & Easy Buzz 'Upcoming New Markets Special Report' series

As part of Tesco's entry into these new market regions, which is less than a year away, Fresh & Easy Buzz is starting a series called "Upcoming New Markets Special Report." In it, we will write/feature original pieces about these new California and Nevada markets (as well as others that are added between now and next year), as well as publishing pieces and articles written by others which we find of interest to our readers.

The "Upcoming New Markets Special Report" series will be an ongoing occasional series. We will write and publish pieces about these markets occasionally for the rest of the year, but at no set schedule. In other words, if we read a story from a publication we think would be of interest to Fresh & Easy Buzz readers, we will publish it.

In terms of original pieces, which will comprise the majority of the "Upcoming New Markets Special Report" series' content, we will offer reports, articles and analysis from time-to-time as issues, ideas and developments warrant in our editorial judgement.

Every piece, either written by Fresh & Easy Buzz team members or from other publications, will be designated with the preface: "Upcoming New Markets Special Report" like this piece from the Bakersfield Californian about the Bakersfield California emerging retail market is. Think of it as a brand or banner. Whenever you see the header: "Upcoming New Markets Special Report," you will know what's coming.

Bakersfield California Market

Speaking of the Bakersfield California retail market, as we mentioned above Tesco plans to open five Fresh & Easy grocery stores in the city of Bakersfield and surrounding communities most likely early next year.

Located in California's southern Central Valley, Bakersfield in many ways has more in common with the Midwestern U.S. than it does with Southern California, and certainly than it does with Northern California.

The region's economy has historically been dominated by farming and agribusiness, which remains the area top economic engine still today.

Bakersfield also has a long history as an oil-producing region in the U.S., although today oil production in Kern County, the county Bakersfield and the surrounding cities are in, is a mere shell of what it once was.

The Bakersfield Metropolitan region in the last decade however has started looking much more like Southern California, and even looking closer to Northern California, in its more mixed economy--lots of professional services, health care, retail, technology--in which agriculture is now joined by a host of other industries and employers.

Part of this changing face of Bakersfield can be reflected in the growing number of national retailers that have come to the city over the last fer years--and the many more that plan on coming.

Upscale retailers like Gap, and Williams-Sonoma have opened stores in Bakersfield recently. Others like Target, women's upscale clothing store Bebe and more will be joining Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in the city and region soon.

Further, the city of Bakersfield has a number of upscale retail developments in the works which will bring even more new, and more upscale and specialty, retailers to the city.

Staff writer Jenny Shearer has an interesting article, "Just how do national retailers decide to come here," in yesterday's Bakersfield Californian newspaper, which is the region's number one daily.

The piece offers an interesting look at the changing face of retail in Bakersfield, along with the demographic changes retailers like Fresh & Easy and others will find in the city and region when they turn the keys in the doors of their first stores in the area.

The focus of the story isn't on food retailing. However, its equally illustrated of the changing face of retailing in the Bakersfield region, as well as the changing consumer demographics of the market area.

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