Tesco Plans for 100 U.S. Stores by February

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Tesco Plans for 100 U.S. Stores by February

LAS VEGAS -- Tesco's U.S. division, which plans to open a chain of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets on the West Coast later this year, revealed plans to have 100 locations up and running in the nation by February 2008, Reuters reported.

The stores -- at 10,000 square feet, smaller than a traditional grocery store -- will focus on ready-to-eat meals and fresh and environmentally friendly products, separating itself from what is sold at mainstream U.S. grocery and convenience stores.

"We want to sell fresh, healthy foods," Tim Mason, chief executive of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, said at a press conference in Las Vegas yesterday. "It's not a beer and chips business."

All of the products sold at Fresh & Easy stores will be free of trans fats, artificial colors and artificial flavors, Mason said at the conference. The stores will not sell cigarettes or tobacco, but will offer beer and wine.

One of the company's soon-to-be competitors, the Green Valley Grocery chain, was in attendance at the announcement in the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

"They sound like they have a wonderful business plan, well-financed and well-thought out. Those of us who are already here will have to improve our offerings to match theirs," Richard Crawford, president of the Green Valley Grocery chain, which has more than two dozen stores in the Las Vegas area, told Reuters.

One question that has marked the entrance of the company in the U.S. remains unanswered. There was no talk of a final decision on a unionized workforce, the report stated.

"It's a decision we will leave to employees," Mason said.

The company also revealed a number of locations for Fresh & Easy stores. The Las Vegas area will see 14 stores, while 20 are slated for Phoenix. Los Angeles and San Diego are other markets where Tesco is setting its sights, according to the report.

The 14 locations in Las Vegas will be:

-- Tropicana Ave & Durango Dr
-- Tropicana Ave & Jones Blvd
-- Horizon Ridge Pkwy & Green Valley Pkwy
-- Centennial Pkwy & Simmons St
-- Nellis Blvd & Desert Inn Rd
-- Bermuda Rd & Silverado Ranch Blvd
-- Lake Mead Blvd & Del Webb Blvd
-- Eastern Ave & Warm Springs Rd
-- Stewart Ave & Nellis Blvd
-- Sunset Rd & Arroyo Grande Blvd
-- Boulder Hwy & Race Track Rd
-- Cheyenne Ave & Martin Luther King Blvd
-- Cheyenne Ave & Jones Blvd
-- Ann Rd & Decatur Blvd
-- Fort Apache Rd & Desert Inn Rd

"Phoenix is already in the public domain ... we will be making announcements about Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County over the next few weeks," Mason said.

The stores will serve all income levels, and will be placed in areas that have been traditionally underserved by other grocers. "What we have been preparing to do is go back into some areas which have become a food desert," Mason said. "Places where major grocery chains have pulled out."

Store exteriors will feature the color green and a white, sail-shaped logo, the report stated. Natural light will be used in-store to cut down on energy costs. Tesco plans to spend $400 million a year in the U.S. over the next five years as it expands the chain, Reuters reported.