SAN DIEGO-Tesco, the UK-based retail giant, has unveiled plans for the first Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in this market. Tesco has identified seven sites in the region where it plans the markets, but the company says that it is also looking for other locations that would be suitable for the Fresh & Easy concept.

The Fresh & Easy stores, at about 10,000 sf, will be smaller than the typical supermarket but “will be easily accessible and will offer everything from everyday staples to gourmet items,” Tesco says. As the name implies, the format will emphasize fresh foods, including prepared and organic items, including the company’s private brand labels.

Tesco says that it has conducted extensive research into the demand for such markets and that the research, in addition to validating the demand, also showed that “by offering the right mix of authentic and national brand products that households use, together with low prices, quality meat and produce and a clean store environment, Fresh & Easy can meet the needs of Hispanic consumers.”

One reason for the smaller size is “to give customers a faster, easier shopping experience,” Tesco says. The Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format is a result of extensive customer research in local US markets, combined with what the UK-based company has learned from its Express format, which it operates in more than 1,000 stores in seven countries.

The news of the upcoming San Diego stores is the latest move in Tesco’s US launch, which includes the construction of a 500,000-sf, $13 million distribution center that is currently under way in Riverside, CA. In addition to San Diego, the company will open Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores throughout Southern California and in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Tesco is the UK’s largest retailer and one of the world’s leading international retailers, operating more than 2,800 stores across 12 countries and employing more than 370,000 workers.

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