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Is Second Bankruptcy Coming for Fresh & Easy?

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. could file for bankruptcy protection for the second time as early as next week, according to Bloomberg.

The operator of approximately 100 Fresh & Easy grocery/convenience store hybrid locations was owned by Tesco plc at the time of the first Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2013. At that time, billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. bought most of the Fresh & Easy assets.

As CSNews Online previously reported, the transaction was officially signed off by a bankruptcy judge in November 2013.

“We are excited about acquiring the Fresh & Easy business," Burkle said two years ago. "We are building a great foundation and see an incredible opportunity to create a healthy, convenient food experience."

In 2013, Yucaipa also tapped former 7-Eleven Inc. CEO James Keyes to run the Fresh & Easy convenience store/grocery hybrid concept, which operates in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Yucaipa has long been considered a retail turnaround specialist, improving the operations of Fred Meyer, Jurgensen’s and Ralphs.

If a Fresh & Easy Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is filed for, it would be the second major grocery and convenience store company seeking such protection this year, following a filing by Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., operator of A&P stores, in July.

Representatives from Fresh & Easy and Yucaipa did not respond to requests for comment by Bloomberg.

Tesco still owns a stake in El Segundo-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

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