Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood: Second of Seven Fresh & Easy Express Stores Opens Tomorrow in Hermosa Beach, California

Retail Ethnography - Bright Lights, Eclectic Neighborhood: Welcome to the Neon Fresh & Easy Express

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is set to open its second 'Express' format store - 3,000 square-feet of selling space, with an edited and limited assortment of the products it offers in its 10,000 square-foot grocery markets - at Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and 8th Street in the coastal Southern California city of Hermosa Beach tomorrow morning.

We've been chronicling in words and pictures the creation of the soon-to-open Fresh & Easy Express store in what we've termed the eclectic Hermosa Beach neighborhood since December 13, 2011, when we published this piece - Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood: Hermosa Beach, California Fresh & Easy Express Set to Open Jan. 11, 2012 - which was the first story in our "Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood" trilogy.

A week later we updated you on how the Fresh & Easy Express store was 'doing' in the neighborhood, offering Part II of our "Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood" Hermosa Beach Fresh & Easy Express chronicles in words and pictures in this December 20, 2011 piece: Hermosa Beach, California Fresh & Easy Express Taking Shape For January 11, 2012 Opening.

The Christmas and New Year holidays have now come and gone and the Hermosa Beach Fresh & Easy Express store is set to be welcomed to the neighborhood tomorrow morning at 10 a.m, when the doors to the micro-small-format grocery market are opened.

Tonight a crew of Fresh & Easy employees are in the Fresh & Easy Express store preparing for tomorrow's grand opening.

The new neon sign on the front of the store is burning bright, as are the lights inside the store. The shelves are stocked but getting a touch up and facing, all in preparation for tomorrow's opening.

The Hermosa Beach, California fresh food and grocery market, which we've nicknamed the "Neon Fresh & Easy Express," will be the second 'Express' format store to be opened by the grocer.

The first Fresh & Easy Express market, at La Cienega Boulevard and 18th Street in Los Angeles, opened on November 2, 2011.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy plans to have seven of the small food and grocery markets, all located in Southern California, opened by the end of March 2012.

The next Fresh & Easy Express store set to open is the unit at Victory Boulevard and Buena Vista Street in Burbank, California. The store's opening date is set for one week from tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18. (You can see photographs of the Burbank Fresh & Easy Express store's construction in progress here.)

Tesco is hoping the new, 3,000 square-foot Fresh & Easy Express format stores will play a major role in its efforts to break-even with its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain in America, which is now four-plus years old and continues to lose a significant amount of money for the United Kingdom-based global retailer, which has operations in 14 countries and is the third-largest food, grocery and general merchandise retailer in the world.

The opening of the 'Express' store in Hermosa Beach tomorrow comes on the heels of an announcement Tesco's Fresh & Easy made late Monday (January 9, 2012) that it's closing 12 underperforming Fresh & Easy grocery markets, a story we broke on Sunday (see here) in Fresh & Easy Buzz, and followed up on Monday (see here), with a second story in which we listed the locations of the 12 stores the grocer is closing, along with reporting on the internal announcement about the store closings made to company employees by Tim Mason, CEO of Fresh & Easy and group deputy CEO of Tesco.

Mason made the announcement via an e-mail to selected employees of Fresh & Easy just a short time before we published our report on Monday. Following the publication of our story on Sunday and our follow up piece early Monday afternoon, in which we reported the stores to be closed, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market made the announcement of the store closures, although initial plans called for it to make the Wednesday.

One of the reasons Tesco CEO Philip Clarke and Mason are working hard to get the first seven Fresh & Easy Express stores opened before the end of March is because they hope the 3,000 square-foot grocery markets will perform well, and therefore help provide a key to breaking even financially with Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market by the end of Tesco's 2012/13 fiscal year, which begins in February of this year and ends in February 2012. This is something Clarke, who took over as CEO of Tesco in March 2011, says will happen.

Tesco will report the results of its 2011/12 fiscal year, which ends in February, in April of this year. Tesco reported a half-fiscal year loss of $112 million for Fresh & Easy earlier this year, on sales of $470 million.

The loss is 23% less than Tesco reported for Fresh & Easy for the same period a year earlier but still remains substantial. As we reported Sunday, the closing of the 12 underperforming Fresh & Easy stores is part of Tesco's strategy to achieve break-even with the chain by the end of the 2012/13 fiscal year.

But tonight, on opening eve, all eyes are on the "Neon Fresh & Easy Express, the soon-to-be-opened store on a busy stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in the the eclectic neighborhood in Hermosa Beach, California.

And come tomorrow, the new Fresh & Easy Express store with its bright neon sign will join Learned Lumber, Sassy'sThe Tendor Box and numerous other retail stores in the eclectic coastal Hermosa Beach, California neighborhood, each one offering what it offers to the eclectic mix of residents who live there.

Welcome to the (eclectic) neighborhood, neon sign and all.

[Related Stories: Read our extensive coverage and analysis of Fresh & Easy Express, including our story that broke the news on the retailer's plans to launch the format, here.]

[Editor's Note: All photographs credit Fresh & Easy Buzz, 01/10/2012.]


James Sinclair said...

Why the delay with the USC store? I would have thought they were aiming for this week, the start of the new semester. Original reports said it would open as early as December.

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

Hello James. Not sure where you read reports that the Fresh & Easy Express near USC would open as early as December?

All of our reports put it as opening in early 2012.

Fresh & Easy opened stores in Mountain View and Brentwood (Northern California, along with the Hermosa Beach Express store today.

Best Regards.

Nigel said...

Great article and photographs.

I must say though I have my doubts upscale mom and pop markets like the Fresh & Easy Express will be a success in California, even if owned by Tescos. I've been in the Exress store in Los Angeles and it looks good but one can only do a limited shop in it, which means going to Ralphs or another supermarket nearby for most of my groceries. While there I get everything I need so have little use for a limited assortment convenience market. But that's me.

James Sinclair said...

Other media reports about the store said as early as December

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

To: James Sinclair

You asked, we answer: The Fresh & Easy Express store at Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard (across from USC) is set to open February 15, 2012.