April 17, 2013
Fresh & Easy's Parent Company Is Calling It Quits In The U.S.
As a plugged-in reader first warned six months ago:
I LOVE [Fresh & Easy] but they just announced last week that they're stalling almost all of their US store openings due to the chain's inability to gain traction and likely won't open more than a couple more in the next year. I think the proposed ones...are unlikely to ever open.
Two months later Tesco announced their plans to either sell off all their Fresh & Easy stores in the U.S. or shut them down. As we wrote at the time, until a decision is made, it's business as usual for the existing stores but their unopened Fresh & Easy locations on South Van Ness and Ocean Avenue appear to be DOA.
And as a reader adds today: "It's official, [Tesco] is out of the US market."
The timing for Tesco's exit and plans for their existing San Francisco and other Bay Area Fresh & Easy stores have yet to be disclosed.
UPDATE: A message from Fresh & Easy this afternoon:
As many of you have heard or read today, our parent company Tesco updated on the future of Fresh & Easy. While we don’t yet know who our new owner will ultimately be, Tesco has already received interest from a number of parties including groups looking to purchase Fresh & Easy as an operating business. We appreciate all the support and love we’ve received from our loyal customers and even though our parent company plans to leave the US, we’re pleased to confirm there are no plans to close any portion of Fresh & Easy.
As always, we'll keep you posted and plugged-in.
∙ A Fresh & Easy Start On Ocean Avenue? [SocketSite]
∙ Fresh & Easy Is Having A Hard Time, Likely To Exit The SF Market(s) [SocketSite]
∙ Fresh & Easy At 1245 South Van Ness Set For Approval This Week [SocketSite]
∙ Tesco quits U.S. and takes $3.5 billion global writedown [reuters.com]
First Published: April 17, 2013 10:45 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Does anyone with their ear to the ground know what's being planned for the former IGA on S. Van Ness at 22nd. I'm amazed that no developer has swooped up that site and massive parking lot for condos over commercial.
Posted by: observant neighbor at April 17, 2013 11:05 AM
Trader Joe's, please, at SVN and 23rd. It has great TJs demographics, is near transit and a lot of homes, and has a parking lot! Who wants to start an online petition?
Posted by: Dan at April 17, 2013 11:07 AM
That is a prime location. I really hope someone builds something there soon.
I *think* I saw a "for lease" sign there a few weeks ago, but only for a few days. maybe someone already scooped it up.
Posted by: OMN at April 17, 2013 11:14 AM
As a neighbor, Dan, I would love that too. I wonder if they think it's too close to their SOMA store? But given how busy that location is, it would seem a slam dunk to bleed of some of the Mission/Noe/Bernal demand to a new Mission location.
Posted by: curmudgeon at April 17, 2013 11:14 AM
Bummer that F&E is closing down. They were my favorite boulangerie. Where else can you nip in and pick up a nice fresh loaf for $1.30 in less than 60 seconds? It was almost like having a little piece of Europe over here.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 17, 2013 11:23 AM
The Clement St. location is jinxed - first the short-lived Albertson's, now Fresh and Easy. What next?
Posted by: zzzzzzzz at April 17, 2013 11:40 AM
Honestly their strat of only going into underserved neighborhoods was their downfall.
I would have loved to have seen one of these in the Castro for example. It's a great store with a great concept that not many got to see.
Posted by: wc1 at April 17, 2013 11:54 AM
And none too soon. Completely underwhelming and weird shopping experience @ F&Easy. (Were the self-service checkouts the 'Easy' part?)
TJoes should consider TJ Express concept.
Or even Rainbow Grocery -- would love to see them expand into smaller venues. Which will never happen.
Posted by: Invented at April 17, 2013 12:19 PM
I agree with Invented. I have been to one both here and Santa Barbara, and I was not impressed...at all.
Posted by: Lance at April 17, 2013 12:45 PM
"Or even Rainbow Grocery -- would love to see them expand into smaller venues"
I haven't been to Rainbow "attitude" Grocery since the time I was in the checkout line and a "worker owner" gave me a stern lecture about why I should not buy products from Israel. I asked them what they were doing about products from China since, at the time, China was slamming Tibet. The response, "that is none of our business". What a blind eye and double standard they had and evidently still do. LOL
Posted by: Rainbow Attitude at April 17, 2013 12:54 PM
A message to our customers
Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
"As many of you have heard or read today, our parent company Tesco updated on the future of Fresh & Easy. While we don’t yet know who our new owner will ultimately be, Tesco has already received interest from a number of parties including groups looking to purchase Fresh & Easy as an operating business. We appreciate all the support and love we’ve received from our loyal customers and even though our parent company plans to leave the US, we’re pleased to confirm there are no plans to close any portion of Fresh & Easy."
Posted by: inclinejj at April 17, 2013 12:56 PM
I generally don't appreciate "self-service" checkout stands, but I liked them at Fresh & Easy, since I was generally going in there just to pick up one or two items as I would at a 7-11 or similar convenience store.
You are all correct that it couldn't hold a candle to Whole Foods. It wasn't trying to.
Not having to put up with a surly cashier for a one-to-two item shopping trip was a plus, in my book.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at April 17, 2013 1:12 PM
I've always had great luck with staff at Rainbow. It's the customers who always look so miserable and annoyed. You'd think being regular would make people more cheerful...
Posted by: BobN at April 17, 2013 1:23 PM
You meant to respond to another poster. Is Rainbow grocery the one with all the cars lined up waiting to get a parking space?
Posted by: wc1 at April 17, 2013 1:46 PM
That's strange because i heard a radio commercial from them this morning. Odd that they would invest in an ad campaign if they knew they were going to shut down their operations.
Posted by: jaybee at April 17, 2013 1:51 PM
Oh, and Invented: re: "the Easy" part.
What I think the last part of the name refers to (I don't have any inside info, and i'm not a shareholder in TSCDY, so i'm completely guessing) is that over and above the microwavable packaged dinners that every store has, Fresh & Easy sold these pre-measured, pre-cut, packaged ingredients that someone with minimal food preparation training could use to essentially "assemble" what appeared at the end to be a reasonably sophisticated dishes and serve a balanced meal.
Pre-cut, pre-measured carrots. Pre-chiffonaded spinach. Pre-mashed potatoes. Pre-marinated cuts of meat, that kind of thing.
They had handouts in the store instructing customers who really didn't know their way around a kitchen in how to buy all of their ingredients pre-prepared, take it all home, pop the wrapping and then serve something that looked home-cooked. This is, of course, "Easier" than learning how to cook and still less expensive than dining out at restaurants :)
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at April 17, 2013 2:02 PM
Fresh and Easy is great for what it is. And if you don't know what it is, why post? So weird.
Posted by: Anon at April 17, 2013 2:10 PM
It will be tough for Tesco to sell F&E as an operating business, doubt it will survive in the US. The leases could have real value for another operator depending upon when and how well they were negotiated.
Posted by: Michael at April 17, 2013 2:15 PM
I'd vote for a Ranch 99 or Pacific Super in the Outer Richmond.
Posted by: sfnative at April 17, 2013 2:44 PM
I know Grocery Outlet has been eyeing the Richmond.
Posted by: sf at April 17, 2013 3:37 PM
I've been to the one in Pacifica and was extremely unimpressed....would much rather go to Whole Foods instead. It just wasn't clear to me what niche F&E was trying to fit in.
Posted by: anon at April 17, 2013 3:43 PM
Bunch of whiners either shop there or don't
Probably a bunch of Slaveway (Safeway) employees posting
Posted by: inclinejj at April 17, 2013 3:47 PM
I wanted to like F&E so much but every time I go in with a list of 5 items they only have 4. I can't count on them to ever have the ingredients for a simple meal. It's the produce that's the problem. They have a very sparse selection. Trader Joe's can pull it off with about the same amount of space. I don't know why F&E has such a problem.
Posted by: Jane at April 17, 2013 3:58 PM
Grocery Outlet is already coming to the Outer Richmond at 6333 Geary Blvd. and 28th ave. They have filed for building permits already.
Posted by: Richmond Resident at April 17, 2013 4:22 PM
I 3rd a TJ over there. No way it would compete with SOMA location, as people from completely different sides of the city would use both. Having a TJ within walking distance would be sweeeetttt....It's like, velkom to da new mission!
Posted by: 49yo hipster at April 18, 2013 6:10 AM
We in the Portola love our Fresh & Easy...it is such an improvement over what was there before (a big empty former supermarket). We waited years for someone to move into that spot. A good supermarket is the cornerstone of a neighborhood. It's where neighbors can meet. Otherwise they have to go outside the neighborhood and you might never run into people who live right around the corner.
Posted by: Paul at May 21, 2013 3:15 PM
Fresh and Easy stores may be turned into organic food stores, with the resurrection of Wild Oats: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-burkle-wild-oats-20130613,0,2377718.story
Wild Oats could do well in SF.
Posted by: Dan at June 13, 2013 10:27 AM