Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fresh & Easy Update

September 4, 2007

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) has been covering the developments of UK-retailer Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets which are slated to start opening in California, Arizona and Nevada beginning in November, 2007. The upscale convenience-style chain is moving fast, preparing to open its first stores in less than three months. NSFM is watching closely and will be bringing our readers regular updates on the retailer as new developments warrant. Below is a fresh batch of Fresh & Easy developments.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets: News and Developments:

Wild Rocket Foods, a British-based fresh produce supplier and distributor know for its "fresh approach" to produce distribution, will be supplying Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets with fresh produce out of a brand new distribution center the company is building in Riverside, California. The company says the facility will be completed before the end of this year. Fresh & Easy is the company's first retail customer but they plan on going after other retail and food service accounts.

Wild Rocket's vice president of marketing James Truscott says the company plans to set itself apart from U.S. produce suppliers by having fresher goods, better paid employees and tangible environmental solutions in terms of doing business. The produce supplier plans on getting fresh produce to the Fresh & Easy stores in 3 days time from the field to the store shelves. If they can do that it will be pretty impressive as on average it generally takes most produce distributors from about 4 to 6 days to do the same.

Wild Rocket is a sister company to well known UK-based Nature's Way Foods which has been supplying Tesco in Europe for 13 years.

Wild Rocket also says its distribution facility will be built using strict energy efficiency and green standards. You can read more about Wild Rocket's plans and their distribution relationship with Fresh & Easy here.

Fresh & Easy plans to open a third store ( 2 are already being planned) in Gilbert, Arizona in a 25,000 square-foot vacant Henry's Farmers Market store in a shopping center called Mirador Square, reports the Arizona Republic Newspaper here. Fresh & Easy plans to use 14,000 of the store's existing square-feet for its retail selling floor. Henry's is a banner of Wild Oats Markets, Inc. which was acquired by Whole Foods Market, Inc. This particular Henry's has been closed for some time so it wasn't part of the acquisition as it was a leased building.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets has inked a deal with Wachovia Bank for the banker to be the exclusive provider of ATM machines for its stores in California, Arizona and Nevada slated to open this fall. The current deal is for the stores' opening in these 3 states but could also be extended for the 40-50 stores Fresh & Easy says they will build in 2008 according to Tesco.

Tesco is building a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Orange, California (Orange Country, Southern California) that is right across the street from a Ralph's Grocery Company supermarket. Ralph's (a Kroger Co. banner) is the leading supermarket chain in Southern, California. The Orange Fresh & Easy is nearly completed according to this story in today's Orange Country Register here.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets has joined the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) environmental volume certification program. the is one of the most respected green building programs in the U.S. It certifies that its members (Like Fresh & Easy) are using the highest environmental standards in constructing their commercial buildings. You can read more about Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets becoming a part of this green standard here.

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