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Fresh & Easy May Close Stores

The British-based grocery chain prepares to pull the plug on its 199 U.S. supermarkets. Offers to buy the chain are already surfacing.

The British are leaving, the British are leaving!

Fresh & Easy stores in California and beyond will soon be sold or closed, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Owned by Britain's Tesco, the 199-market grocery chain never quite caught on with American consumers.

Analysts said the recession was partly to blame -- Fresh & Easy debuted in California, Nevada and Arizona in 2007, just as the economy was tanking. But, ultimately, shoppers didn't warm to the concept.

"Though it attracted a small group of loyalists, Fresh & Easy largely failed to capture the imagination of American consumers who proved unaccustomed to British-style ready meals, self-service cash registers and unfamiliar store layouts," the Journal said.

Tesco's CEO told the paper: "It's likely, but not certain, that our presence in America will come to an end."

Offers to buy all or part of the chain are already trickling in, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

In Orange County, Fresh & Easy's locations include Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Seal Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Westminster.

Susan Wattles December 05, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I love F & E and will sorely miss it if it leaves. Granted, it wasn't the best place for everything, but what is? I don't do all my shopping in one place and love the ease and convenience of F & E. I found their prices fair and competitive and their store brands good. Crossing fingers that a Trader Joe's scoops up the Lake Forest location!
Susan Wattles December 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I agree with Jeff. My daughter picks up lunch for work most days at F & E and eats healthier and cheaper than she can most anywhere else. Great salads!
Frank Mockery December 05, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Let's join the Retail Clerk's Union & wish this under-stocked & over-priced niche grocery market chain a bon voyage (& don't let the door hit you where the House of Lords split you) !!!
Andromeda December 05, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Have any of you ever wondered how the little persian markets or asian grocery stores (Little Saigon) can undercut the large, large chain supermarkets on so many of the food items? I can go to an asian store and buy whole salmon for $2.50 a pound. At a normal chain store it would cost me $8 a pound minimum. Wouldn't it seem logical that the large chain stores could buy in large bulk quantities from the wholesalers and put the small stores out of business? Can you say LABOR COSTS? When you pay a register puncher $25-$30 an hour with fantastic benefits that's what happens. I encourage you to shop at the small markets. Maybe if enough people do it the large chains will come back to their senses and stop ripping off the consumers.
Shripathi Kamath December 05, 2012 at 10:14 PM
" When you pay a register puncher $25-$30 an hour with fantastic benefits that's what happens" Yes, and in mom and pop owned/family stores, owned and operated by a family, everyone gets their "fantastic" benefits. Which is why small mom and pop stores remain small and not become a large chain. Not enough family members to run large chains. Not enough profits and benefits for everyone else to start working there. Unless you are Trader Joe's. "Maybe if enough people do it the large chains will come back to their senses and stop ripping off the consumers." Indeed, it is something executives of large chains do not understand while they are making millions in compensation. All they have to do is starve the register punchers, and pass the savings on to the customer. That'll work. What we need is a real race to the bottom.
Frank Mockery December 05, 2012 at 10:17 PM
What have you got against grocery store employees making a decent living ? Stores staffed with illegal aliens making substandard wages living in poverty,collecting food stamps & relying on the government for health care so you can save a few dollars is penny wise & pound foolish ! It's idiots like you who bash union workers & in turn lower the standard of living for all Americans ! Fortunately you represent a shrinking minority in California whose political clout has been marginalized to the point of being non-existent & rightfully so ! Go shop at Walmart,the Walton's (& their employees) are America's biggest welfare recipients by far & you deserve each other !!!
Andromeda December 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Frank Mockery, America was designed to "ONE NATION UNDER GOD" not separate economic classes where the law of employment economics is turned into a farce. Jobs were always supposed to be compensated based on the education and skill level needed for said job. Let's face it. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to punch a register. Somebody with a GED could easily do the job. The fact that a register puncher at a big unionized chain store makes $25-$30 an hour while a convenience store (non-union) register puncher only makes $9 an hour shows who the kings and queens are in our society and what a disparity we have. If a register puncher wants to make more money than $9 an hour then go get more education and do a job that requires a higher skill level and attracts a higher compensation. This is the logical way the world should work, Fred. It's called 'equity' and 'fairness' in the workplace.
Shirley December 05, 2012 at 10:33 PM
OMG. I'm not really surprised...no one ever there.
Shirley December 05, 2012 at 10:35 PM
When does a "register puncher" get paid $25 - $30 an hour? Better check that lie out.
MFriedrich December 05, 2012 at 10:36 PM
10 out of 12 registers at Home Depot are automatic. That's not why Fresh & Easy closed. Several years later, a Lake Forest Patch reporter uncovers that they built the grocery store structure on a haunted Native American burial ground. Any business that opens up there was doomed to fail.
Andromeda December 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Shirley, obviously you don't know any register punchers at a big chain store like I do. Why do you think they strike on a regular basis? Because the price of a gallon of milk is too high? It's all about the money, dear.
Andromeda December 05, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Mr. Freidrich, obviously you didn't read the article. All the F&E's in California are packing up and moving out. Were they all built on burial ground? heh. (Oh, I know. You were being funny). To me it's obvious. At F&E fresh salmon would probably cost me $8/pound. I can buy fresh salmon (right off the boat) at the asian stores for $2.50/pound. Why would a little independent asian market with limited ability to store inventory and buy in super large quantities be able to sell salmon @ $2.50/Ib. while the big boys charge us $8/lb. or more, Mr Friedrich, in a business with tight margins? Use your imagination, Mr. Friedrich.
Lani December 05, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Easy-yes, but not so fresh. I really liked the store when it opened, but on more than one occasion I purchased meat that was rotten and baked goods that was crawling with weevils in 2 days. Yuk! I lost all trust and would only shop there for basics; milk, cereal, canned goods... I'll miss the size and convenience, but not products.
Lani December 05, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Wouldnt' it be great if all the F&Es turned into TJs?
Shripathi Kamath December 06, 2012 at 12:32 AM
"a Lake Forest Patch reporter uncovers that they built the grocery store structure on a haunted Native American burial ground. Any business that opens up there was doomed to fail." LOL! In the olden days, they'd suck you through the TeeVee or just burn the place down.
Amy December 06, 2012 at 12:38 AM
As someone who has several family members who have been "register punchers" for 20+ years, I can assure you that they do NOT make $25-$30. Way to try to work everyone into a frenzy, though.
Frank Mockery December 06, 2012 at 02:31 AM
The reason that some "register punchers" make a living wage & those who toil in convenience stores don't is called "collective bargaining" you union bashing moron ! Nobody other than you believes that one's education & skill level should determine how much compensation they receive,that's ridiculous ! As maligned as our union teachers are they still earn less than your union garbageman,so much for your worthless theories ! Oh & by the way there is no God & bringing your divinely delusional beliefs into the conversation just demonstrates your piosity is only exceeded by your stupidity !
Lil-Marty December 06, 2012 at 03:42 AM
They suck!
Susan Wattles December 06, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I wrote to F & E earlier today and already received this response. ( I write many letters and this is the fastest I have ever gotten a response) "Thank you for shopping at Fresh & Easy. We appreciate you reaching out to us. I am happy to hear that you like our stores. I do want to let you know that we are not looking to close. Although we are no longer affiliated with Tesco, we are going to continue our chain. Thank you for inquiring about this. Thank you for shopping at Fresh & Easy and we look forward to seeing you at a neighborhood market near you". Chance
deena December 06, 2012 at 06:33 AM
To anyone the posted comments about the smaller asian stores~ Just prior to Thanksgiving I had performed multiple searches in the local South County area and couldn't find any that were close by. One store that continually made the top of the search had recently closed. I would really appreciate someone sharing with me the locations of any around here~as I only hear good things about quality of the food and prices. Thank you in advance for your suggestions
Andromeda December 06, 2012 at 07:16 AM
Deena, the one I go to is located just south of Brookhurt on Westminster on the east side of the street. You can't see if from the road. You have to pull into the parking lot and drive around back to see it. I forget the name of the store. In fact, last time I was there I bought whole salmon for $1.99/pound. Super deal. And it's delicious. The fruit and veggies are discounted too but you have to be selective since some is not the best quality. But most is very good. I usually buy a 10 pound bag of rice when I'm there. It lasts us forever. I see very few caucasions in these stores. Strange. I guess no one likes a bargain. Good luck.
Peter Schelden (Editor) December 06, 2012 at 09:15 AM
Hey everybody, please remember to be decent to each other. It's in the agreement you made when you signed up with Patch.
Homer December 06, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Deena, which area are you looking for the specialty stores? Andromeda, nice way to throw in a 'race card' when relating your experience at such a specialty store. Did you happen to consider the demographics of the adjacent neighborhoods as you observed the customers?
Ann Sue December 06, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Thank goodness I don't eat salmon!
Al Gore December 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I liked these stores and I'm a bargain shopper and they are over priced. The only F&E near us is at Valley View and Lampson and is a tiny express store. It's really nice inside, but there is only so much you can buy at a tiny express store. The Long Beach and Buena Park stores are just to far away.
Mike December 06, 2012 at 06:53 PM
That's not the reason, fresh and easy didn't want to sell toothpaste or toothbrushes as in much of England. In America, we don't go for that Austin Powers look, yea baby!!!!
Andromeda December 06, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Homer, it is an asian supermarket. Owned, operated and mainly frequented by people of asian descent. So don't play the race card with me and try to make something out of nothing. Your political correctness is knee-slapping hilarious and one reason America is on a downward slide. Go back to commenting on how drunk people should answer the door for cops!!! heh.
Andromeda December 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Too bad for your Ann Sue. Salmon is one of the healthiest foods around.
Capo Parent Too December 07, 2012 at 02:43 AM
That's not evidence, that's call anecdotal, different and one man's opinion. Yes, it does anger me, but I'm not a "union puppet", just tired of people blaming everything on a small percentage of the population.
Capo Parent Too December 07, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Gee, you don't have an ax to grind...Trader Joe's has great prices and not a union in sight. They offer health care benefits as well for part time employees, they are far more reasonable than Whole Foods. It's amazing that we pay so little for food here, people have no idea how easy we have it.

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