British grocery giant Tesco PLC began its long-awaited assault on the U.S. retail scene with the opening of its first six Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market locations in Southern California (for a first-hand report, see story page 19). With 100% self-checkout systems, the format is big on convenience, with an emphasis on healthy fresh foods and prepared meals. Virtually everything is pre-packaged, including almost all of the produce. The Fresh & Easy private-label accounts for half of the food offerings, and is represented in nearly every major category, from produce to coffee to prepared items. There is also a limited selection of non-food items, including health and beauty merchandise, over-the-counter medications and paper goods.
Featuring a 10,000-sq.-ft. footprint, Fresh & Easy has a clean, streamlined look, with wide aisles, an uncluttered feel and bright lighting. Signage throughout the space calls attention to the retailer’s eco-friendly and organic positioning (Fresh & Easy’s private brand has no artificial colors or flavors, and no trans fats). Along the aisles, products are shelved in their original cardboard containers.
As part of the company’s commitment to the environment, Fresh & Easy has committed to building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings, recycle or reuse all shipping and display materials and use eco-friendly trailers to transport food. It also has invested in California’s largest solar roof installation on its distribution center in Riverside.
Fresh & Easy plans to open 200 stores by the end of next year, with 50 scheduled to open by the end of February 2008, in Southern California, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Tesco has committed to investing $2 billion dollars over five years in its U.S. debut.