Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tesco Planning to Announce in July When First Northern California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores to Open

Northern California Special Report

Tesco plans to announce in the next couple weeks, and possibly as early as next week, on July 2, at its 2010 shareholders meeting in London, when it will open the first of its 37 confirmed (and numerous non-confirmed) Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in Northern California, Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned.

[Related story - April 19, 2010: Tesco Debating Whether to Launch Fresh & Easy Into Northern California This Fiscal Year... or Wait]

The announcement will be one of multiple big and important announcements Tesco plans to make about Fresh & Easy USA at the July 2 meeting and/or later in July, according to our sources.

Among our sources for the information is Eric Mar, a member of the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors. At a meeting of the San Francisco Richmond District Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association on Thursday, June 24, at which a Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent attended, Supervisor Mar said he recently had conversations with Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market executives who told him two things: That the retailer remains committed to opening its stores in Northern California, including its current three sites in San Francisco, and that it would be making some "important announcements in the next couple weeks" that would include information about the Northern California stores and Tesco's launch into the market.

Supervisor Mar's information matches information we had previously obtained from other sources.

The purpose of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association's June 24 meeting was a presentation by representatives of the CVS drug chain and its local developer, Landmark Retail Group, of plans they've filed with the City of San Francisco for a drug store at 3123 Clement Street (32nd Avenue and Clement Street) in the Richmond District, which borders Golden Gate Park in the San Francisco's West of Twin Peaks area. The Richmond District, along with the neighboring Sunset District, are also referred to as "The Avenues" because of the long and flat (unusual in the city) avenues that lead out to Ocean Beach at lands-end.

In April 2009 [April 13, 2009: Despite Postponing its Northern California Launch Again Earlier This Year Tesco's Fresh & Easy Planning Third San Francisco Store; First Stockton Unit] we reported Tesco's Fresh & Easy had leased a vacant, former Albertsons store at 32nd Avenue and Clement Street in San Francisco's Richmond District for a future Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market store. Tesco has a 25 year lease on the about 32,000 square-foot building at 3123 Clement. Fresh & Easy has yet to publicly confirm the Clement Street location.

Earlier this year Tesco's Fresh & Easy sub-leased about 40% of the building - 14,271 square-feet - to the CVS drug chain. Recently CVS submitted formal written plans (see above) to the City of San Francisco to turn the 14,271 square-feet into a drug store. Tesco plans to put a Fresh & Easy store in the remaining space. The two stores will be separated by a wall. CVS hopes to get approval for the store as soon as possible, for a 2011 opening. (If you double-click on the plan graphic above you can enlarge it for better viewing.)

It was at the meeting on Thursday evening, which was held inside the vacant building at 3132 Clement, where Supervisor Mar, who represents the Richmond District, told those in attendance, including the Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent, that Tesco executives have assured him they will open the stores in Northern California, including the three current planned locations in San Francisco, which is something we've been consistently reporting, most recently in April here and in May, 2010 here.

It was also at the meeting where the Supervisor said he's had recent conversations with Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market executives in which they told him Tesco will be making "a couple important announcements in the next couple weeks." Among those announcements will be one regarding Tesco's future plans to open its stores in Northern California, he said he was told.

[Note: See our current 'The Insider' column here for additional information.]

As mentioned earlier, Tesco is holding its 2010 shareholders meeting in London on July 2. We expect these "big announcements" to come then. Any additional announcements not made at the meeting should come in July, but no later, according to our information.

Stories in our on-going 2010 Northern California Market Special Report Series

June 14, 2010: Newly-Named Whole Foods Market CO-CEO Walter Robb Comes Full Circle With the Opening of the New Store in Mill Valley CA

June 5, 2010: Sprouts Farmers Market Opens First Northern California Store in Sunnyvale; Strikes Up Partnership With Local Non-Profit Farm

May 29, 2010: Going Rural: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to Build First Store in Los Banos, California

May 28, 2010: First Phase of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market-Anchored Condo Development in San Francisco's Bayview Set For Completion in June

April 19, 2010: Tesco Debating Whether to Launch Fresh & Easy Into Northern California This Fiscal Year... or Wait

May 9, 2010: A Whopping 15 of Whole Foods Market's 41 New Stores in Development are in California - And Nine of The 15 Are In Northern CA

May 8, 2010: Sprouts, and Likely Henry's to Beat Fresh & Easy to Northern California Despite it's Big Head Start

May 6, 2010: Going Smaller & Getting 'Hybrid': Walmart's Smaller Supercenter in Vacant Retail Buildings Strategy Began in 2008

[Readers: Click here and here to read more of Fresh & Easy's Buzz's extensive reporting and analysis on Tesco's Fresh & Easy-Northern California, as well as on the Northern California market in general.]

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