Fresh & Easy is going stale.
The grocery chain owned and operated by British supermarket giant Tesco could be shut down due to meager sales, according to company officials.
At this point, all 199 stores in the U.S. — with 19 locations in the Bay Area, including Concord, Walnut Creek, Danville, Antioch and Pleasanton in the East Bay — could be sold, closed or offered up to new partners, Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke said, as reported by Bloomberg.
The "Neighborhood Markets" began rolling out stores in the Bay Area in early 2011, after opening the first Fresh and Easy in Southern California in January of 2007.
Fresh and Easy intended to set themselves apart with relatively small grocery stores, self-service-only check-outs, and variety of prepared meals ready-to-go without preservatives. The stores would also stock imported fare, like British candy bars, baked beans, teas and "biscuits" — or cookies, to Americans.
The aim was to establish a "post-melting-pot" grocery store that "reflected the wide diversity of the U.S. market and U.S. consumers," Fresh & Easy chief executive Tim Mason told the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2010.
However, the special items haven't been enough to draw a significant U.S. customer base, and opting for smaller stores as a way to differentiate the company may have backfired.
Fresh and Easy representatives say that the stores will continue to operate as usual until a decision is made.
Why do you think Fresh & Easy has struggled in the U.S. market? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.