|Fresh and fresh-prepared foods at Walgreens.|
Just as we said it would do in this story - Walgreens' Eyeing San Francisco For Fresh Foods Program: Could it Strike Category Gold in the City By the Bay? - published back on January 25, 2010, drug store chain Walgreens is launching its fresh and fresh-prepared foods program in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market started opening its first batch of stores in March.
There are currently 11 Fresh & Easy fresh food and grocery markets in Northern California. Nine of the units are in the San Francisco Bay Area. The other two units are in Modesto, in the Northern Central Valley, and Vacaville, which is about midway between the Bay Area and Sacramento.
Walgreens' is launching its fresh and fresh-prepared foods program to start in about 30 stores in the Bay Area as a test, which is what it did in Chicago. The drug chain has hundreds of stores in the region, including 64 units in San Francisco alone, so the potential store base from which it can offer fresh foods is extensive.
The first batch of stores (15 units) getting the fresh foods sections include 13 units in San Francisco, one store in nearby Daly City and a unit in San Rafael (Marin County), according to Wagreens' media relations specialist Robert Elfinger and our sources at the Deerfield, Illinois-based drug chain.
Elfinger has released a list of the initial 15 out of the about 30 Walgreens' stores in the Bay Area that are set to have fresh and fresh-prepared foods sections in by the end of June 2011. The list is at the end of this story.
The fresh and fresh-prepared foods sections include a selection of fresh produce and meats; ready-to-eat foods like sandwiches, salads, wraps, sushi and other items; and fresh, ready-to-heat entrees, side-dishes, soups and other offerings. See the photograph at top.
Fresh foods and particularly fresh-prepared foods are a major offering at Tesco's Fresh & Easy. In fact, it's a fair analysis to say - and Tesco has said it - that fresh-prepared foods are the key offering or attempted point-of-differentiation the Fresh & Easy format is premised on.
In our January 25, 2010 story we said San Francisco would be the main initial focus in the nine county Bay Area for Walgreens. It is.
Two of the 13 San Francisco Walgreens' stores, including one at 25 Point Lobos/43rd Avenue at Lands-End in the Outer Richmond District that already has the fresh and fresh-prepared foods section and offering in-store, are nearby the first two Fresh & Easy stores Tesco plans to open in the city.
The other Walgreens' store that soon will be offering fresh and fresh foods and that's near a soon-to-be-opened Fresh & Easy market is at 5300 Third Street in the Bayview District.
The 43rd Avenue Walgreens' store is 11 blocks from the Fresh & Easy market we've reported Tesco plans to open June 22 of this year. [See - May 10, 2011: Breaking Buzz: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Plans to Open First San Francisco Store at 32nd and Clement June 22.]
The Walgreens' unit at 5300 Third Street in the city's Bayview District is just down the street from the Fresh & Easy store at 5800 Third Street Tesco currently plans to open August 24, as we reported on May 14 here: Breaking Buzz: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Plans August 24 Opening For Third & Carroll Store in San Francisco's Bayview District.
It's no mere coincidence Walgreens' is launching its fresh foods program in the Bay Area now. The program is quarterbacked by two former executives of Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market - Brian Pugh and Jim Jensen.
In fact, our January 6, 2010 report (here) - Breaking Buzz: Corporate Director of Fresh Foods Jim Jensen Leaves Tesco's Fresh & Easy - that then director of fresh foods at Fresh & Easy, Jim Jensen, had left the grocery chain and was joining Walgreens - and former Fresh & Easy vice president of retail operations Brian Pugh - at the chain's headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois was responded to eight days later when Pugh, who recruited Jim Jensen to the drug chain from Tesco's Fresh & Easy, confirmed our report by announcing Jensen had joined Walgreens' to head up its fresh foods program as corporate divisional manager of fresh foods.
[See the two stories linked here for details - January 15, 2010: Just-Exited Tesco Fresh & Easy Fresh Foods Director Jim Jensen to Head New Fresh Foods Initiative at Walgreens Drug Chain; and Thursday, January 21, 2010: Walgreens' Announces Hiring of Former Fresh & Easy Fresh Foods Director Jim Jensen; Confirms Our January 6 Report.]
We reported exclusively in this story on September 22, 2008: - Key Personnel Breaking News: Co-Vice President of Retail Operations Brian Pugh No Longer Employed At Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market - that Pugh, who was initially Fresh & Easy's vice president of retail operations and later became its co-vice president of retail operations, sharing the position with Jeff Adams, had left the Tesco-owned fresh food and grocery chain. Prior to joining Fresh & Easy Pugh worked for United Kingdom-based Tesco in a couple of its other global divisions.
Three months later on December 22, 2008 Walgreens' announced Brian Pugh had joined the chain in a new position, vice president of format development. [See our story - Breaking News: Mega-Drug Chain Walgreens' Hires Former Tesco Fresh & Easy USA VP of Operations Brian Pugh For New VP of Format Development Position.]
In March 2008 Walgreens' promoted Pugh to vice president of merchandising. He's responsible to a significant degree operationally for the drug chain's increased focus on food and grocery items in the stores over the last couple years, along with the fresh foods emphasis at retail, for example. [See - March 2, 2008: Walgreens' Promotes Former Tesco Fresh & Easy Exec Bryan Pugh to VP Merchandising Position; Move Fits Drug Chain's Current Strategic Focus.]
Like they did during their tenure at Fresh & Easy, Pugh and Jensen have been working very closely together on implementing and rolling out Walgreens' fresh and fresh-prepared foods program, which currently is in about 200 stores in metro Chicago, New York City, including units of the Walgreens'-owned Duane Reade chain which already had its own similar program when Walgreens' acquired last year, and a couple other places in the U.S.
Along with the list of 13 Bay Area locations (out of the initial 30) released by the Walgreens' spokesman, we've learned from a good source that a number of the remaining 17 units the drug chain is implementing its fresh foods program in are near some of the nine Fresh & Easy stores Tesco has opened in the San Francisco Bay Area so far this year.
For example, don't be surprised if the Walgreens' store located right next to the (click here to see a photo) Fresh & Easy store in Danville isn't soon offering fresh produce, grab-and-go sandwiches and salads, sushi, a selection of fresh meats, ready-to-heat entrees and side dishes and the other fresh and fresh-prepared foods - all very similar to what Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market offers - in the store.
In fact, if you've ever seen any of Walgreens' private brand ready-to-heat entrees created by Jensen and his team, like the Lasagna Bolognese pictured above, you might be tempted to nickname them "Son of Fresh & Easy." Below is Fresh & Easy's private brand Lasagna.
When Jim Jensen was director of fresh foods at El Segundo, California-headquartered Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market he had overall buying/merchandising responsibility for fresh produce, meat, and deli/ fresh-prepared foods. That responsibility included fresh-prepared foods brand development in conjunction with the grocer's culinary team.
Walgreens' stores in Concord, Walnut Creek, Hayward and a couple other Bay Area cities - all near Fresh & Easy stores opened in March and April of this year in the cities - are looking pretty good for new fresh and fresh-prepared foods installations down the road as well.
We'll have more news, along with some in-depth analysis, about Walgreens' initial 30-store fresh foods and fresh-prepared foods program roll out in the San Francisco Bay Area in the next couple days.
As we said in our story published in Fresh & Easy Buzz 16 months ago, the San Francisco Bay Area region is a major focus for Walgreens with its fresh foods program.
That's because, as we also said in the January 25, 2010 story, the region offers great opportunities for retailers that offer fresh-prepared foods.
But in addition to that primary reason, there's a secondary one - the Tesco Fresh & Easy angle - which we've laid out for you a bit in this story - and in our past coverage and analysis (see the links below) of how Walgreens' fresh foods program relates to Tesco's Fresh & Easy via the Pugh and Jensen history and angle.
We'll have more to come. Stay tuned.
>April 11, 2010: When it Comes to Fresh, Prepared Foods, New York City's Duane Reade is Simply 'deLish' for Walgreens
>January 6, 2010: Breaking Buzz: Corporate Director of Fresh Foods Jim Jensen Leaves Tesco's Fresh & Easy
>January 15, 2010: Just-Exited Tesco Fresh & Easy Fresh Foods Director Jim Jensen to Head New Fresh Foods Initiative at Walgreens Drug Chain
>Thursday, January 21, 2010: Walgreens Announces Hiring of Former Fresh & Easy Fresh Foods Director Jim Jensen; Confirms Our January 6 Report
>January 22, 2009: Neighbors by Location Only: Will Mega-Drug Chain Walgreens' New Focus on Consumables and 'Affordable Essentials' Rob Sales From Tesco's Fresh & Easy?
>December 22, 2008: Drug Chain Walgreens to Slow New Store Growth; Despite Tesco Fresh & Easy's Recent Announcement to Do Similar, We Suggest An Analogy is Misplaced
>December 22, 2008: Breaking News: Mega-Drug Chain Walgreens Hires Former Tesco Fresh & Easy USA VP of Operations Brian Pugh For New VP of Format Development Position
>September 22, 2008: Key Personnel Breaking News: Co-Vice President of Retail Operations Brian Pugh No Longer Employed At Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market
Below are the 15 Walgreens' stores in the San Francisco Bay Area set to have fresh foods and fresh-prepared foods offered in-store by the end of June 2011. Source: Walgreen Company.
1344 Stockton Street
Daly City (San Mateo County)
Westlake Shopping Center
San Rafael (Marin County)
830 Third Street