After opening the first 50-plus Fresh & Easy stores, Tesco is "pausing for breath," Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy chief marketing officer, wrote in his blog last week.
Fresh & Easy recently announced 17 Greater Sacramento locations for the chain and it is seeking more here. The company opened its 50th U.S. store last month as part of a rollout that began in Southern California, Las Vegas and elsewhere in the Southwest.
Fresh & Easy has grown to almost 2,500 employees from 200 in nine months, and will exceed 5,000 staffers in another nine months. The company also has ramped up to 59 stores from none in just over four months, Uwins wrote.
Now, it's time to allow the business "to settle down," he said in his blog. "So we've given ourselves a little bit of time to kick the tires, smooth out any wrinkles and make some improvements that customers have asked for."
Fresh & Easy will take the three-month break from new store openings except for opening a "couple" more in Phoenix, he wrote.
The hiatus will allow the company to accelerate its openings and "restart what's been described as an opening program on steroids."
A Piper Jaffray analyst said mid-month that Fresh & Easy is failing to attract shoppers and has missed its early sales targets by 70 percent.
Tesco had hoped to bring in sales of $100 million over six months, the report said, but had sales of only $30 million in that period, according to the analyst's report, which was based in part on information from suppliers.
Tesco, in published reports, said it was "bewildered" by the revenue assertions and called the report "utterly baseless."
"We are very pleased with customer reaction to Fresh & Easy, which is growing rapidly," a Tesco spokesman told the Guardian newspaper.
Tesco has said there's room for up to 1,000 of the Fresh & Easy stores in the United States.
In November, when the company opened its first Fresh & Easy store, it expected to have 200 stores by the end of this year.
"We're delighted with the openings," Uwins wrote in his blog. "There's always been a line of customers waiting for each store to open."
The average Fresh & Easy is about 10,000 square feet, three times larger than a convenience store but a fraction the size of a supermarket.Source: BizJournals