Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Spokesman Confirms Our South-to-North Distribution Reports in Talk to Pacifica, California Group

Pictured above is the Fresh & Easy store in the Pedro Point shopping center in Pacifica, which is set top open on March 9, 2001. The photo was taken by a Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent at the end of December 2010. See: December 27, 2010: First Look at the Pacifica, California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Store, One of the First Opening in Northern California in Early 2011. A considerable amount of work inside the store has been completed since the photo was taken.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy in Northern California - 2011

In an August 22, 2010 column, our 'The Insider' columnist reported that Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market would distribute product to its stores in Northern California, which it plans to start opening on March 2, 2011, from its distribution center in Riverside County, which is hundreds of miles away in Southern California. You can read the column at: Challenges & Opportunities: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Will Supply its Northern CA Stores From its Riverside County DC in Southern CA. Fresh & Easy Buzz has also reported the information in other stories in the blog.

This south-to-north distribution scenario is an option we suggested Tesco should consider in a couple analysis pieces in Fresh & Easy Buzz going as far back as 2008, when at the time the retailer's plans were to launch into Northern California in early 2009. Tesco postponed its launch of Fresh & Easy into Northern California until the first quarter of this year.

However, according to our sources, it was only recently, about spring/early summer 2010, that Tesco corporate director and Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason decided to distribute to the Northern California stores out of the Southern California facility - which will be a challenging objective for Fresh & Easy to successfully achieve, in our analysis and experience - deciding not to outfit and open the distribution facility in Northern California until a later time.

To our knowledge (and we follow the grocer rather closely), El Segundo, (Southern) California-based Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has never publicly announced - and thus confirmed our report - that its plans to distribute to the Northern California stores from the Riverside County facility in Southern California, which is a long haul away.

For that matter, Tesco's Fresh & Easy has never publicly announced it has a Northern California distribution facility in Stockton, California, even though we reported on its existence over three years ago, and have verified with the City of Stockton that Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is listed as the owner or leaser of the Stockton site with the city. Other publications have also reported on the Stockton facility, which the grocer doesn't plan to open this year.

Report verified

However, 'The Insider's' August 2010 report has now been officially verified by Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's director of communications and corporate spokesman, Brendon Wonnacott.

Wonnocott was the invited speaker at the January 13, 2011 meeting of the Pedro Point Community Association in Pacifica, California. The group is comprised of residents who live in the neighborhood where Tesco's Fresh & Easy is on March 9, 2011 opening one of its first three fresh food and grocery stores in Northern California.

The first two Fresh & Easy stores in Northern California ar set to open on March 2, in San Jose and Danville. [See - January 17, 2011: First Look at the Willow Glen-San Jose Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Store Set to Open March 2, 2011; and January 12, 2011: First Northern California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores Opening March 2; Nine More to Follow March-April.]

The Pacifica Fresh & Easy store is in the Pedro Point Shopping Center, at 5550 Coast Highway. [See - January 12, 2011: First Northern California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores Opening March 2; Nine More to Follow March-April; and December 27, 2010: First Look at the Pacifica, California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Store, One of the First Opening in Northern California in Early 2011.]

At a recent meeting of the Pedro Point Community Association in Pacifica, Wonnocott, in response to a question from one of the members of the audience, who asked where the Pacifica and other Northern California stores would get product from, answered that until a Northern California distribution center is created, the Pacifica store and others in Northern California will be supplied out of the distribution facility in Riverside County, Southern California.

Wonnacott spoke at the neighborhood group's Thursday, January 13, 2001 meeting. The leaders of the Pedro Point Community Association had requested earlier in the year that a representative of Tesco's Fresh & Easy address the group before the store opens on March 9.

Following a brief presentation at the Thursday evening meeting on January 13, Wonnacott then took questions from members of the audience, all of whom belong to the community group and live in the Pedro Point neighborhood, which also happens to be where Pacifica's mayor, Jim Vreeland resides. [See - July 21, 2010: Vacant Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Store in Pacifica, California Has the City's Mayor in a Pickle.]

Meeting Q&A

Below is a summary of the questions asked by neighborhood residents and the answers given by Tesco Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendon Wonnocott:

Question: The area behind the shopping center is often used as a dump, and gets very messy. Will Fresh & Easy fix this?
Answer/Wonnocott: Yes.

Q: The parking lot is currently over-crowded, and when Fresh & Easy opens it will become even more crowded.
A: Fresh & Easy will look into this issue.

Q: Who will occupy the smaller retail units adjacent to F&E?
A: It's unknown by us at this time

Q: What will Fresh & Easy do about beach-goers parking in the shopping center lot?
A: It’s not clear how much of a problem this will be.

Q: Will there be on-premises dining at the Fresh & Easy store?
A: No.

Q: Will local vendors be featured in the store? Organic produce?
A: It varies. In summer, about 75% of produce is locally produced, much of it organic.

Q: Will excessive packaging result in more garbage at the beach?
A: The store will have prominent recycling bins for customer use.

Q: Can Fresh & Easy install extra trash cans around the shopping center?
A: Good idea. F&E will look into this.

Q: Why did Fresh & Easy choose Pacifica?
A: F&E executives take a bus tour of prospective neighborhoods, and Pacifica was one of their first choices. The store has good visibility, it is a pretty location.

Q: What is Fresh & Easy's relationship with the City of Pacifica?
A: F&E has hired a consultant whose job is to manage that interface.

Q: Is Fresh & Easy a subsidiary of a UK company.
A: Yes, F&E is a subsidiary of Tesco, but F&E is a U.S. company. It will not feature British goods.

Q: What will the (Pacifica) store's hours be?
A: 8 AM to 10 PM

Q: Will there be a fish market?
A: Yes, but it will not be large.

Note: Fresh & Easy stores feature some packaged fresh fish and seafood items in the store's self-service refrigerated meat cases.

Q: How big will the entire store be?
A: 10,000 square feet.

Q: When will deliveries be made? At night?
A: Don’t know yet, but F&E will be mindful of the sound of delivery trucks.

Q: How much alcohol will be available in the store?
A: About one aisle, beer and wine selected to accompany the food for sale.

Q: How much additional lighting will be in the parking lot?
A: F&E uses highly efficient LED lighting, and the light is directed downward.

Q: How will the Pacifica store be supplied?
A: Until a northern California distribution center is created, the store will be supplied from the S
outhern California distribution center in Riverside.

Q: Several F&E stores have been closed recently. Why?
A: The stores were in economically distressed neighborhoods that could not support them. There are plans to re-open these stores as the economy improves.

Issues of concern

The members of the neighborhood group are concerned chiefly about three issues involving the Fresh & Easy store opening in their neighborhood next month - noise, traffic congestion, increased litter and its abatement, and sales of alcoholic beverages.

The noise issue primarily involves deliveries to the store, while the traffic congestion concerns involve parking and other traffic issues in and around the Fresh & Easy stores.

The litter concern is something many of the neighborhood group's members say they want headed-off by Tesco's Fresh & Easy before it becomes an issue. Pacifica is a beach community that's extremely concerned with preventing litter, particularly single-use plastic grocery bags and food packaging, from getting onto its beaches and into the ocean. The coastline runs right along the Pedro Point neighborhood and near the Fresh & Easy store.

Coming full circle

The Pedro Point Community Association plans to keep a close eye on the store and these concerns once the Fresh & Easy market opens on March 9, its leaders tell Fresh & Easy Buzz.

We don't doubt what they tell us because it was in October of 2008 when the group first requested that a representative from Tesco's Fresh & Easy come speak to the community group, as we reported in a story on October 7, 2008: Fresh & Easy Corporate Reps to Meet With Pedro Point Pacifica, CA Neighborhood Residents to Address Concerns Over Store to Open in 2009.

At the time the Fresh & Easy corporate rep spoke to the group in October 2008, the retailer hadn't even announced it planned to open a store in the coastal city of Pacifica. In fact, members of the Pedro Point Community Association learned of the grocers plans by reading about the news in Fresh & Easy Buzz, in this June 24, 2008 story: Upcoming New Markets News: Tesco to Locate Yet Another Fresh & Easy Store in San Francisco Bay Area; 21 Thus Far By Fresh & Easy Buzz's Reporting, they told us. The neighborhood association's leaders contacted Tesco's Fresh & Easy shortly after our story appeared. They were able to get a representative of the chain to speak at their meeting in October 2008.

Over two years later, the group continues to follow Tesco's plans for the fresh food and grocery store set to open next month, on March 9, in their neighborhood. As such, Pacifica's Pedro Point Community Association appears to us to be the type of local and neighborhood group that a grocer like Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market should do all it can to get on its side.

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