Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The End For Tesco's Fresh & Easy is Here

We've been reporting exclusively all year that the end of Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market - 199 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona - is near.

Now, according to our sources, the near is here: Tomorrow Tesco could announce that it's either selling or will pull the plug and close its five-year-old U.S. fresh food and grocery chain, which has racked up loses of nearly $2 billion.

If Tesco doesn't announce either of these two moves tomorrow when it reports its holiday season trading numbers to date - and based on our reporting we haven't been able to confirm there is a buyer for Fresh & Easy - it will announce it's launching a "formal review" of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, which is merely a way to buy some time in order to further search for a buyer.

As we've reported previously, Tesco has been formally reviewing Fresh & Easy since earlier this year when Tesco CEO Philip Clarke brought in former Asia operations CEO Jeff Ashdown to essentially take over day-to-day operations of the Southern California-based grocery chain.

Tesco's CEO and its board know the status of the chain (if not Tesco investors are in real trouble) - another $100 million dollar-plus loss for the current fiscal year which ends February 2013 is on the way, for example - which is why an announcement of a "formal review" would merely be a stall tactic.

Tesco reported a $250 million loss for Fresh & Easy for its most recently-ended fiscal year. We expect the loss for this fiscal year, which ends February 2013, to be slightly but not much less than that because of the massive layoffs, some cost-cutting, and the halt on new store openings at Fresh & Easy since August of this year.

Further evidence that the end is here: There are numerous Fresh & Easy stores completed and previously slated to have been opened in the third and fourth quarters of this year, like the units in Los Angeles and Sunnyvale, California which a construction firm contracted to Fresh & Easy handed over to the chain a couple months ago, that haven't been opened. The two locations are at the top of what is a list (planned new store roll out) of stores Fresh & Easy has wanted to open but hasn't been allowed to by parent Tesco.

Nobody needs a formal review to know that when a grocer doesn't open stores it's spent millions of dollars to have built, its CEO, in this case Tesco CEO Philip Clarke, doesn't see a future for the operation. Translation: The end of Fresh & Easy is here regardless of what Tesco says tomorrow morning about its U.S. operation.

As we've reported exclusively, Tesco has been trying to sell Fresh & Easy for some time. Among the potentials we've reported on are Aldi and Dollar General.

Additionally, we've also reported there's been "feelers" out to various commercial retail real estate agents for some time, the goal of which has been to "dispose" of Fresh & Easy, either as a whole chain or in bits and pieces. Tesco has also, as we've reported, been trying without success to either sell or sublease a number of the numerous store locations it has but has never opened.

At present we can't conclusively report a sale of Fresh & Easy, or that if a deal to sell the chain hasn't been inked that Tesco will pull the plug and close its Southern California-based food and grocery retailing operation.

But we can report the end of Fresh & Easy is here. And it's here regardless of when or the form in which Tesco disposes of it.

Stay tuned though, as we continue to work the story.

Note: Read through the tweets from all of 2012 at www.twitter.com/freshneasybuzz (as well as the blog) for a natural progression of our reportage about  the end of Tesco's Fresh & Easy being "near" to its end being "here."

Breaking...More to come...



John said...

I live near the Sunnyvale store under construction. This unit is located at Fremont avenue at Mary Avenue, in Sunnyvale. The store is an Albertsons closed in January 2002.

It has been empty for a decade and is now being renovated and gutted for Fresh and Easy. FE is even "hiring" for the store. So no, it is not turn key. I have read a lot about FE so how this thing is under construction now is a mystery. FE first put out permits for the store 2 or 3 years ago if not longer.

Anonymous said...

If I had a nickel for every time I said F&E would fail, I'd have a few quid by now! Bad time for a mass layoff, but we can only hope that Aldi will fill the gap...

Anonymous said...

Seen the F&E announcement and I we know the writing is on the wall about their future. As an employee who has invested A LOT more hours than the average person at any other normal job, I am somewhat sadden that it didn’t work out. Many employees worked harder than they ever had to anywhere else, under crazy ridiculous expectations from management with NOOOO appreciation at all but still gave 100% commitment, service and dedication into this business. Honestly yeah that sucks! But on the bright side, the possibly of it being sold to another retailer or outlet who knows what the heck they are doing for a change sounds pretty positive. I can only HOPE F&E does find a buyer and then finally OUT WITH THE OLD, Brit "decision makers" aka level 4 & 3's who are complete A-holes who think they know it all and would never listen to an American idea that actually would make them some money. And then OUT with all the incompetent managers that were promoted as “Puppets” who agreed to all of their dumb decisions without question just because their job was to simply say “YES”. SHAME on both of you. If you would have lowered your egos for just a minute (might be physically impossible but let’s pretend it could happen) and actually listened to those ideas on how to save money & make money then you wouldn’t be packing your bags right now! IT'S ABOUT DANG TIME!! Seeee ya Lodge, Ewart and Fletch, the super duper sloppy decision makers for manufacturing. FYI - Money trees and unicorns are NOT real, they do not exist apparently not even at TESCO. Okay so best part, IN WITH THE NEW... Seriously send them home ALREADY, please!!! It sure would be great to finally get a retailer/buyer who is a competent leader that understands the US market. Just maybe those who have gone over and beyond all of these years to try and make F&E successful will reap some benefits from hard work. Hey they might finally get an employer who actually values and appreciates their service. Unlike the rejects that came from Tesco...Soooo GO BACK HOME BYE BYE :) Chow!!! And don’t let the door hit ya in the a$$.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

I am sooooo happy the Wankers are all going home. I worked at F&Sleazy for about a year and it was a nightmare. They treat all the employees that are bright and have good ideas like dogs, no wonder they have lost millions with lawsuits from their past employees. The Brits they sent here including Sean McCurley are a bunch of stupid buttwhipes. They refused to listen to the professionals that they hired and did it the British way. I warned them that their ideas will not work in the US and they just turned and looked the other way. I am so happy that they failed, hopefully they fire all the Brits that were involved in this lager than life collosal money loosing project. Whos accountable, whos gonna get their head chopped? I miss working with the great American team we had, we knew our stuff, but they (Brits) didn'listen. They suck and I'm glad the Wankers are finnally going home. And stay away from the US forever dang arrogant bloody lolipops.

Anonymous said...

The stores are nice but I think many customers are confused about the self-checkout. The employees at my store in Chula Vista are the problem... it's not that they're rude, they're just indifferent and often don't acknowledge you. And the couple of times I had a question, they were clueless and I haven't been back since.

Anonymous said...

As a loyal Fresh & Easy customer, I will be quite saddened to see their doors close. I love their stand on no high fructose corn syrup, that they offer a broad range of organic selections, I appreciate the discounted merchandise and the coupons. There is a lot going for this chain...again, I will be hard pressed if their doors close.

Anonymous said...

I love this store. I am a loyal customer and shop there almost exclusively. The staff is so friendly. I love the F&E brand products and the convience of having it right on the corner. I hope they will find a buyer. We so desperately need this store in our neighborhood. If anyone at Tesco reads this could hold off on closing the store on 107 th and Thomas in Avondale Please!

Anonymous said...

To the customers on here loving your Fresh and Easy give me a break and really ask a worker in your store how they really feel.Im tired of hearing about you customers who say that is my store because fresh and easy is a crap hole and only out of 200 stores a few managers are capable of getting new jobs as store managers.I ask please close down asap so us workers can have our life back because we cant trust these brits who are lying to our face right now and will screw us american workers when we get the chance. But if you want to be one of these so called kiss butts and sniffing the brits arse cause you think it will get you somewhere beware as I will laugh when you get screwed.