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Fresh & Easy Stores May Close

The British-based grocery chain prepares to pull the plug on its 199 U.S. markets.

A second Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market once planned for Nutmeg Street in Murrieta seemed more unlikely as news broke Wednesday that the chain's stores in Southern California and beyond will soon be closed or sold, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Owned by Britain's Tesco, the 199-market chain—which currently operates a Murrieta Hot Springs Road location—never quite caught on with American consumers, the news report indicated.

Analysts said the recession was partly to blame -- Fresh & Easy debuted in California, Nevada and Arizona in 2007, just as the economy was tanking. But, ultimately, consumers didn't warm to the concept.

"Though it attracted a small group of loyalists, Fresh & Easy largely failed to capture the imagination of American consumers who proved unaccustomed to British-style ready meals, self-service cash registers and unfamiliar store layouts," the Journal said.

Tesco's CEO told the paper: "It's likely, but not certain, that our presence in America will come to an end."

In response to an emailed inquiry in August, a spokesman for Fresh & Easy confirmed the company had taken its signage down from the Nutmeg location that remains vacant after never opening.

"We’ve heard from community members that the signage might cause confusion since the store is not open so we took it down," Spokesman Brendan Wonnacott told Murrieta Patch.

Hantslady December 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I will truly miss the Fresh and Easy store on Murrieta Hot Springs Road if it closes. The prices are very favorable and the store is very convenient. Agreed, the selection is not as great as the regular grocery store, but the convenience by far outweighs that. Having to drive to Ralph's, Albertson's, Von's or Stater Bros. takes time and is very frustrating manoevering around the large store. This Fresh and Easy needs to stay.
Jay Bravia December 06, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Why would a store leave the biggest market in the county? Let me tell you. Work comp rates are out of control, some of those new propositions that just past taxing out of state corporations, raising taxes on the "wealthy" and much more. This is one of the first to leave and many more companies wont be far behind.
Jennifer McCaughey December 06, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I think the fact that they opened during a recession with all the major grocery companies pulling out all the stops to keep their customers may have played a part. They don't take coupons, which is why I only go there for the meat, which I will now stock up on and hoard in my freezer, you can't beat the quality for the price. It would be great if Trader Joe's bought at least some of them out, I hate going to the one in Temecula, the parking lot is horrendous and not worth dealing with when you are only buying a couple of things. I also feel bad about the people losing their jobs.
censored messenger December 06, 2012 at 11:34 PM
They will have free food stamps and 99 weeks (2 years) of UE benefits...and that is on top of any union benefits, if they had one. When their UE runs out then Obamacare will be in effect. I'ts a wonderful life! Fret not about the workers. Fret about where the money to take care of them is coming from..
teaahugger December 14, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Agreed with Trader Joes! Whole Foods may be a good idea, but with Baron's, Sprouts/Henry's, and Sprouts Natural Markets within the area, I think our health store needs are satiated. I wouldn't be opposed to a Whole Foods opening when the Triangle and High Speed Railroad project starts, because then we could probably be able to handle another health store in the area.

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