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Wisening Up to Fresh Food’s Potential

There is fresh blood being pumped into Fresh & Easy. The newly christened “fresh food convenience store” — as Mike Evans, vice president of marketing, calls it — is being remodeled and reintroduced to customers as the “Smarter Market.”

After filing for bankruptcy in September 2013 and then transitioning to new ownership in November of the same year from London-based Tesco plc to Los Angeles-based The Yucaipa Cos. LLC, the Fresh & Easy chain, which operates in California, Arizona and Nevada, has spent much of its time and effort “transforming into a new business, focused on delivering a new vision of modern convenience,” Evans told Convenience Store News.

In March, Fresh & Easy rationalized its store base and divested locations that did not meet the criteria of its new model of “modern convenience,” according to Evans, who said the move allows the company to redeploy capital into development and growth, including a 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot store model to provide a higher level of convenience and greater density.

“The company has accomplished several major initiatives, including a massive renovation project and relaunch in Las Vegas with an all-new fresh food concept,” he relayed. This includes a new Fresh To Go hot food bar; a more open, modern feel and store layout; and a revamped product selection with lower fixtures and a more abundant selection of fresh food.

The hot food bar is at the core of the in-store changes, featuring made-to-order food such as:

  • Sandwiches using upscale meats and cheeses prepared on La Brea Bakery artisan bread, and said to be ready in minutes;
  • Fire Oven Pizzas that are hand-stretched and also ready in minutes; and
  • Hot soups made fresh in Fresh & Easy’s kitchen, served hot and ready to eat.

Other in-store changes include: a coffee, espresso and tea bar; a smoothie machine; a self-serve beverage bar featuring draft soda, kombucha and freshly pressed orange juice; a homeopathic and natural-remedies section with a health kiosk; and a natural baby section.

Most recently, Fresh & Easy unveiled some of the first lines of USDA-certified organic muffins, mini muffins and cakes on the market, which join other Wild Oats-branded products sold exclusively at Fresh & Easy. Made locally in Southern California in small batches with USDA-certified organic fruit and ingredients, the new bakery items such as banana bread, zucchini bread, lemon blueberry mini muffins and coffee cake contain no artificial flavors, preservatives or colors.


The new Fresh & Easy is “a company built on fresh ideas,” according to Evans.

“Innovation is at the core of everything a Smarter Market does. From the hundreds of new, unique fresh products introduced this year, to eggs stamped with a laid-on date, to an in-store growler program and the first USDA-certified grab-and-go sandwiches and salads in America, Fresh & Easy is delivering its promise to be a destination for value and products that don’t exist anywhere else,” the VP of marketing stated.

Regarding store design, Fresh & Easy is working with ADMI, the firm behind the design of the Apple Store, to design the Fresh & Easy store of the future. Using many of its Las Vegas stores as a test market to implement even more new ideas and concepts, “we are going to constantly fine-tune our ideas,” Evans maintained.

One of the new ideas is its Click & Collect e-commerce service that allows Las Vegas shoppers to buy online and pick up the purchased items at the store. Like many of the concepts tested in Las Vegas, this is currently serving as a pilot for a potential chainwide rollout.

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