Monday, November 17, 2008

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: Tesco Fresh & Easy CEO 'Delirously Happy' About Chain's Performance to Date

The photograph above of Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason is from a profile piece, "Tesco's American dream is still in sight," published in yesterday's The Times (United Kingdom). The Times' caption to the photograph is: 'Not usually a man for taking the back seat, Tim Mason has led Tesco's drive into America and insists that he is 'deliriously happy' with the progress so far.'

Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA CEO Tim Mason (pictured above) told The Times (United Kingdom) newspaper in a follow-up interview (yesterday) to the November 12 interview published in the paper in which the head of Tesco's Southern California-based small-format convenience grocery and fresh foods chain told the publication the grocer is postponing its launch into the Northern California market, that he's "deliriously happy" with Fresh & Easy's progress and performance to date.

This is the first time we can recall hearing the CEO of a U.S. supermarket chain (U.S or foreign-owned), and a struggling one at that, use such effusive language about the performance of the chain he runs in our nearly 30 years participating in and observing the U.S. food and grocery retailing industry.

The Blog Fresh & Easy Buzz, which covers Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market and the retail food and grocery industry, has a report on the interview with Tim Mason and an analysis of Tesco's Fresh & Easy small-format, convenience-oriented grocery and fresh foods chain.

You can read the story and analysis from Fresh & Easy Buzz at the link below:

Sunday, November 16, 2008: Tesco Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason Says He's 'Deliriously Happy' With the Chain's Progress Thus Far; We Prefer Andy Grove's 'Only the Paranoid Survive'

Fresh & Easy Buzz also has a story today about Sacramento, California's Oak Park Neighborhood Association, a group of residents who live in the city's Oak Park neighborhood and who appealed the design of the Fresh & Easy grocery market Tesco is proposing for that neighborhood to the Sacramento Design Review Board after the board approved the company's standard store design without comment.

Tesco has basically two designs for its Fresh & Easy stores that it uses in all of the markets, and new proposed markets, it is in. The first is the design it puts into vacant buildings, which the majority of the grocer's stores in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona are to date. The second design is its Fresh & Easy built from the ground up prototype design. These are new store construction projects rather than remodels of vacant buildings. The proposed Oak Park Neighborhood Fresh & Easy in Sacramento is a new, built from the ground up store.

With the exception of a few minor exterior graphic and signage differences, Tesco doesn't customize or localize the Fresh & Easy stores. The stores in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona essentially look the same outside and inside. There are some differences with the exteriors of the stores in remodeled vacant buildings based on what those buildings looked like on the outside before the remodeling. Those are accidental exterior differences though, not intentionally designed ones.

Based on the presentation by members of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association at the store design appeal hearing on October 15, 2008, the city's design review board incorporated a number of changes into the conditions of the store's design; changes Tesco must make when it builds the store in Sacramento's Oak park neighborhood.

According to the story in Fresh & Easy Buzz, despite the mandated changes, and the fact the grocer is postponing it launch into Northern California which includes Sacramento, Tesco and the developer have purchased the vacant lot where the proposed Fresh & Easy market is to be built for $1.1 million dollars. In other words it appears the grocery chain is going forward with the store. When construction will start is a whole different question.

The owner of the parcel was Kevin Johnson, the former NBA basketball all-star and native of Sacramento. Johnson retired from the NBA a few years ago and returned home to Sacramento, launching a career as a real estate investor and developer. He also founded a non-profit community-based development organization called HOPE. HOPE is headquartered in Sacramento's Oak Park neighborhood, the historically low-income neighborhood in the city where Kevin Johnson lived throughout his childhood, and where the Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery store is set to be built on land Johnson, who is now the mayor-elect of Sacramento, sold to the company for a cool million.

Read the story from Fresh & Easy Buzz at the link below:

Monday, November 17, 2008: Sacramento City Design Board Agrees With Oak Park Group on Design Changes For Proposed Fresh & Easy Store; Escrow Closed on $1.1 Million Parcel

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