Tesco has just announced in this statement it will conduct a "strategic review" of its 199-store Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain, which is one of three options we reported yesterday the United Kingdom-headquartered global retailer would announce this morning. It's 7 am in the United Kingdom.
As part of the review, Tesco also announced that Tim Mason, who's been the CEO of Fresh & Easy since its start over five years ago, is leaving the company.
Mason, who's been with Tesco for over 30-years and is married to the daughter of a former Tesco CEO and Chairman, was given the added title of deputy CEO of Tesco in March 2011, following the retirement of Sir Terry Leahy, the former Tesco CEO who hatched the idea for Fresh & Easy. Philip Clarke replaced Leahy as CEO.
Mason, who lives in Southern California and has made millions of dollars in salary and bonuses while CEO of Fresh & Easy, was also given the position and title of chief marketing officer for Tesco last March, which was the position he held at the global retailer before departing for America in 2006 to head up its now failed fresh food and grocery retailing venture as CEO.
Here's what Tesco and its CEO Philip Clarke said (italics) about the "strategic review" in a very brief press statement just released:
In October, we announced that new capital investment in Fresh & Easy was to be tightly constrained whilst the business focused on reducing costs and improving the profitability of its existing stores.
It is now clear that Fresh & Easy will not deliver acceptable shareholder returns on an appropriate timeframe in its current form.We have therefore appointed Greenhill to assist with the review of options. In recentmonths, we have had a number of approaches from parties interested in acquiring either all or part of Fresh & Easy, or in partnering with us to develop the Fresh & Easy business. We will communicate progress on this process when we present our full year results for the current financial year in April 2013.We are also announcing that Tim Mason is to leave Tesco after 30 years' service with the company.“I have been clear since my appointment as CEO was announced that my role is to deliver long-term value for shareholders. Following a year in which my priority for Fresh & Easy was to improve its performance, I have now made a fully-informed assessment of its longer term potential.“Whilst the business has many positives, its journey to scale and acceptable returns will take too long relative to other opportunities. I have therefore decided to conduct a strategic review of Fresh & Easy, with all options under consideration. “Tim Mason, who leaves Tesco today, has played an important part in our success over a 30 year career with the company, and he leaves with my thanks and good wishes.”
Tesco also just posted a piece in its 'Talking Shop' blog from Philip Clarke, which you can read here.
Clarke makes it very clear in both the corporate news release and in his blog post that Tesco will exit the U.S. with Fresh & Easy one way or the other - be it the sale of the chain as a whole (very unlikely to happen), selling it off in pieces, or closing the operation and moving on - as we've been reporting all year would be the case, and as we correctly reported in this piece yesterday: "The End For Tesco's Fresh & Easy is Here."
Like we reported on Tuesday, the end is hear for Tesco's Fresh & Easy, regardless of when it occurs or how the disposition comes down.