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Fresh & Easy’s future unknown

Store runs ‘business is usual’
By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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Lincoln’s Fresh & Easy is operating as though business is usual at this time, managers Thomas Allen and Kevin West wrote on Good Neighbors of Lincoln Facebook page.

Allen and West made the announcement last week after the parent company of Fresh and Easy, Tesco, issued a statement Dec. 5 saying Tesco is cutting off all ties with America and plans to sell of its Fresh & Easy stores.

Tesco is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Allen said the chain is for sale but stores are not closing.

“Our parent company, Tesco, can no longer continue to invest in this market due to the financial situation in Europe,” Allen wrote. “They still believe in the concept and we are committed to ensuring all your commitments are filled and that we will be ready for business if and when a suitor is found.”

In an earlier post, West, on behalf of Allen, wrote, “We have been told there are no final decisions that have been made on what the outcome is. We will be open at least until the end of our fiscal year in February. We want all of our neighbors to continue to shop with us.”

Fresh & Easy operates 199 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. The bulk of the stores, 165, are in California. Lincoln’s store opened in March at 741 E. Joiner Parkway.

Fresh & Easy corporate spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said it’s “business as usual for now. We are in the beginning of the process. There is no set time frame to find a buyer.”

In October, Tesco announced that new capital investment in Fresh & Easy was to be tightly constrained while the business focused on reduced costs and improving the profitability of its stores. Tesco officials said it is now clear Fresh & Easy will not deliver acceptable shareholder returns in an appropriate time frame in its current form.

“Whilst the business has many positives, its journey to scale and acceptable returns will take too long relative to other opportunities,” Tesco Chief Executive Philip Clarke said. “I have therefore decided to conduct a strategic review of Fresh & Easy, with all options under consideration.”

Most of the customers interviewed Dec. 7 by The News Messenger were not aware that Fresh & Easy is up for sale. Those who did said they would be “very disappointed if their favorite local store” closed.

“I love this store,” said Carli Catanzariti, a four-year Lincoln resident and mother of three boys. “This is like my store. All the other grocery store parking lots are poorly designed. The parking lots at Raley’s and Safeway are a mad house. If Fresh & Easy were to leave, I’d have to go back to shopping at Target and spending way too much money.”

Medical coworkers Silvia Marquez and Lupe Jaimes said they didn’t know that Fresh & Easy’s parent company was selling the store.

“We just come in once in a while for lunch,” Marquez said.

Amanda Webb said she “was really sad about the news" delivered by a check-out clerk.

Pushing a cart of groceries to her vehicle accompanied by her two daughters, Webb said she shops at Fresh & Easy because the store stocks fresh, organic produce and food free of preservatives.

“I’m bummed out,” Webb said. “I really like this store.”

The mother of two said she shops at Fresh & Easy two to three times a week.

“Before, I shopped at Winco and Walmart,” Webb said. “I’m upset. Safeway and Trader Joe’s are so expensive.”

Pointing to the bags in her cart, Webb said, “I got all of this for $150, a lot of food for a good price.”