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Fresh & Easy Cuts Back on Expansion Plans

Grocery retailer says it will not reach 200 stores by February, nor will it reach Chicago



Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. (El Segundo, Calif.) said it will not open 200 new stores by February 2009, as it had originally announced. Nor will it expand beyond its current West Coast base of operations.

According to The Financial Times of London, ceo Tim Mason said the concept, introduced in the U.S. by Tesco Plc (Cheshunt, U.K.) in 2007, has been forced to scale down his ambition dramatically in the light of the U.S. consumer downturn and will now open half that amount of stores by the deadline. And Tesco's plans to expand into Northern California and move to other parts of the U.S. – even as far east as Chicago – will be postponed.

Mason said he now hopes to hit the 200 target by November 2009, some 10 months later than planned.

Tesco said that it had taken the decision because of the wider economy rather than because of concerns about how its stores were performing. “There is no doubt that the economy in the U.S. is in a very different place to where it was when we entered the market,” said the British retail giant, “We had always planned to accelerate our expansion in the second half of this financial year but in the current climate it is sensible to respond to the conditions we see now.”



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