Fresh & Easy expanding into Northern California
by Tim Linden | August 25, 2010
Fresh & Easy is opening nine new stores in September in its current markets
and has announced plans to extend its reach into Northern California with the
opening of seven stores in the San Francisco Bay area in early in 2011.
Company spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said that on average, Fresh & Easy
continues to open stores at the pace of one a week, but it tends to bunch the
"For example, we opened no new stores this month (August 2010), but we will
open nine next month, including our 100th store in California," he told The
Produce News Aug. 24.
Currently, Fresh & Easy, which is owned by British retail giant Tesco, has 159
stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. The majority of those stores are in
Southern California, but the firm has inched northward over the last two
"We opened our first store in Bakersfield (in the southern end of the San
Joaquin Valley) in December of 2008 and our first store in Fresno (about 100
miles farther north) in January of this year."
Of the new stores opening in September, one will be in the Fresno area. The
firm also announced that a Modesto store, which is even farther north in the
state's Central Valley, will open in early 2011. The Bay area stores are spread
throughout the region, with one each in San Francisco and San Jose and the
other five sprinkled throughout the suburban communities east and south of
the City by the Bay.
Mr. Wonnacott said that many factors go into choosing a location for the
stores, with zoning and city licensing procedures high on the list. He said that
with its 159 stores, Fresh & Easy has proven that the small format can work in
virtually any neighborhood - from the inner city to the suburbs.
"In the Los Angeles area, we have stores in Hollywood and Pasadena, but also
in South City and Compton," he said. "Those all have very different
demographics. We have shown that this format works anyway. We have put
the stores in a lot of different types of locations, and they all perform about
That same diversity of store locations is slated for Northern California. The
San Francisco store will be located in the Bayview district, which is an area in
transition that most often makes the news because of its high crime rate.
There are also stores planned for the blue-collar communities of Vacaville
and Concord, as well as the more upscale cities of Danville and Walnut Creek.
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market first opened in Southern California in
November 2007, and the banner has steadily expanded ever since. Mr.
Wonnacott said that each store typically has a sales space of about 10,000
square feet, with the total store space in the 13,000- to 15,000-square-foot
range. This small format allows the company to find many different locations
that will work.
"We have many standalone stores, but we also have stores that fit well in
existing spaces," Mr. Wonnacott said. "And we have other stores in new
developments. In fact, the Bayview store [in San Francisco] will be part of a
new mixed-use development" that will combine retail and residential spaces.
In a company press release, Fresh & Easy Chief Executive Officer Tim Mason
said, "We're excited to continue opening new stores and creating jobs
throughout California. Customers love our stores, and we are eager to
introduce Northern California to Fresh & Easy and our fresh, wholesome food
at affordable prices."
Mr. Wonnacott said that initially the Northern California stores would be
serviced by the firm's distribution center in Southern California. He said that
there is no announced timetable for the opening of a supply facility in
Northern California, but he added that the eight Northern California store
openings in early 2011 are just the first eight of what should be many more.
When the company reaches an undeclared point of critical mass, Mr.
Wonnacott indicated a Northern California distribution center would become
part of the mix.