HOLLYWOOD-British grocer Tesco has identified 12 sites in the Los Angeles area where it will open its new chain of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, including one at 7120 Hollywood Blvd. in a building owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust and the CIM Group. The 16,600-sf Fresh & Easy in Hollywood is expected to open at a 149,000-sf neighborhood shopping center in the fall of 2008, according to the building owners, who consider landing Tesco a coup. “Tesco is currently one of the most sought-after retailers,”says Jeff Kreshek, a principal at CIM Group.

According to Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO, the 12 store sites that the British firm has identified stretch from Hollywood to Compton. Tesco is also planning to find more L.A. area sites and to open stores throughout San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas later this year.

The Fresh & East format will be “smaller than the usual supermarket to give customers a faster, easier shopping experience,” Mason says. Along with announcing its expansion plans, Tesco has been promoting its new stores as good places to work by publicizing wages and benefits offered.

Although the Hollywood store will be 16,600 sf, Tesco has said elsewhere that the Fresh & Easy stores will typically measure about 10,000 sf. The smaller stores “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.

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 Los Angeles 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.

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. At its Hollywood location, the British grocer will join retailers DSW Shoe Warehouse, LA Fitness, Longs Drugs and the Knitting Factory at the property, which as been significantly redeveloped over the past two years.

Federal Realty and CIM acquired the failed entertainment center, formerly known as the Galaxy Building, in 1999. The addition of Tesco finalizes the transition of the property into a community serving, grocery-anchored center, says Jan Sweetnam, vice president of asset management for Federal Realty Investment Trust.

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