Tesco's Fresh & Easy Team Gets First Change

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Tesco's Fresh & Easy Team Gets First Change

LONDON -- Tesco has made the first change to its executive management team for Fresh & Easy, its fledging American supermarket chain, the Times Online reported.

Jeff Adams, the American-born chief executive of Tesco's Lotus business in Thailand, is heading back to the United States where it is understood he will be second-in-command to Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy's chief executive, according to the newspaper.

The move is likely to spark fresh concerns over the health of Tesco's new venture. The retailer has been dogged by persistent speculation that Fresh & Easy is missing internal sales targets set at the time of the launch in November, the report stated.

The concept is based on the smaller Tesco Express convenience format and is new to the U.S. grocery market, dominated by the giant stores run by the likes of Wal-Mart.

Piper Jaffray, the broker, last month claimed that sales across 50 Fresh & Easy stores in Southern California could be averaging 170,000 pounds a week -- below the rumored 200,000 pound target. Mason, however, hit back days later by announcing plans to expand in northern California and insisting that sales and customer numbers were growing every week.

A source close to Tesco insisted Adams' appointment was about supporting Fresh & Easy's further growth rather than fixing problems, the Times Online reported. Adams joined Tesco Lotus from Wal-Mart and is widely credited with its success in the past four years. Two former Wal-Mart colleagues also work in Fresh & Easy's management team.