The Fresh & Easy store in Danville, California (pictured above) opened March 2 has about 10,000 square-feet of selling space inside. The San Pedro "Express" unit in Los Angeles will have less than half as much. [Photo: Fresh & Easy Buzz.]
We broke the news in this January 23, 2011 story [Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Looking For Locations For New, Smaller-Format 4,000-to-5,000 Square-Foot Stores] that Tesco-owned Fresh & Easy was developing a 4,000-5,000 square-foot edited version of its about 10,000 (selling space) square-foot Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores and looking for locations in Southern California to test the concept.
We've now discovered what will likely be the first smaller-format Fresh & Easy store to open. That unit, in Southern California, will be a 4,000 square-foot store at Sixth and Gaffey Streets (here) in San Pedro, which is a community in and around Los Angeles' harbor area and home to the Port of Los Angeles.
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market currently plans to call the 4,000-5,000 square-foot stores Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market "Express," according to our sources, to differentiate the smaller units from the flagship (10,000 square-foot) Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores, which it currently has 176 of in California (127 units), Metro Las Vegas, Nevada (21 units) and metro Phoenix, Arizona (28 units)
As we reported in January of this year, the Fresh & Easy "Express" format stores will essentially be a smaller and edited version of the 10,000 square-foot Fresh & Easy grocery markets. They will also borrow a couple elements from the United Kingdom-based retailer's Tesco Express (about 2,500-3,000 square-feet) convenience-style stores, which it operates in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has applied to the State of California for an off-sale beer and wine license for the 4,000 square-foot store at the San Pedro location, something we've verified through California's Alcohol Beverage Control Department.
Additionally, a hearing regarding Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's application for the beer and wine license is scheduled for September 21 of this year, according to a City of Los Angeles notice we recently reviewed.
In our January story we reported that among the current potential smaller store sites Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is looking at in Southern California include at least three locations in Orange County, along with more than one site in Los Angeles and nearby Santa Monica.
According to our sources, assuming it doesn't run into any objections in obtaining the beer and wine license for the store along with incurring other types of delays, Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason and his senior staff would like to open the 4,000 square-foot "Express" store in San Pedro around mid-November of this year, although as we always say about new store opening dates at Tesco's Fresh & Easy, they are fluid and dynamic. If the store doesn't open this year, it will open in early 2012, our sources say.
We reported in this December 10, 2010 story [Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason Says 70 New Stores Possible in Los Angeles Area] that Tim Mason, who since then has become the deputy CEO of Tesco as well as CEO of its El Segundo (Southern) California-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain, told members of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association of the San Fernando Valley at a meeting that Fresh & Easy was looking to open up to 70 new stores in the Los Angeles area.
"We've identified 70 opportunities [new store locations] in Los Angeles", Mason told a meeting of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association of the San Fernando Valley (VICA) on December 9, 2010. "If we can open those 70 opportunities, that will be 1,400 jobs, as well as 300 construction workers per-site. We’re eager to invest and we want to get on," he told the group.
Tesco's Fresh & Easy has opened three stores in Los Angeles County so far this year; in Long Beach, San Dimas and Walnut Park. A few additional new Fresh & Easy stores are set to open this year in Los Angeles County, including in Long Beach, which isn't far from San Pedro. In addition to Long Beach, Tesco has other Fresh & Easy stores near San Pedro, in Harbor City and Signal Hill., for example.
On July 12 of this month Mason said in a speech he gave at Town Hall Los Angeles that Fresh & Easy was still looking at opening those 70 stores, saying as he did in December 2010 that part of the grocer's ability to do so is predicated on it not being bogged down with numerous local government regulations and objections by community and neighborhood groups.
Some of the 70 Los Angeles-area locations Fresh & Easy has identified are, like the San Pedro unit, in the 4,000-5,000 square-foot range and, like the store in San Pedro, will be "Express" units rather then flagship Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores, although the 10,000 square-foot fresh food and grocery market remains Teco's primary format focus in the U.S.
Tesco's primary focus with Fresh & Easy will remain on the current 10,000 square-foot format stores, adding the smaller "Express" units as an adjunct or secondary format.
We'll have more on Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's "Express" smaller store initiative soon in Fresh & Easy Buzz. Stay tuned.