LONDON — The decision by Tesco  here to pull out of Japan should not lead to speculation about the company's plans for its U.S.-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market operation, the company's chief executive officer said here Tuesday.
"Any comparison [of Japan] with Fresh & Easy would be inappropriate," Philip Clarke was quoted as telling media outlets. "We are going to get ourselves to profit [in the U.S.], we are going to drive the growth and then we are going to get the return on capital that the shareholders want. I stick by it until things prove otherwise."
Tesco said at the end of its fiscal year last February it expects its U.S. stores to turn profitable by the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
The company said it hopes to sell its 129-store Japanese operation — the company's smallest international retail division.
Fresh & Easy, which moved beyond Southern California, Arizona and Nevada earlier this year into Northern California with stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, broke ground Wednesday on the first of six announced sites in Sacramento. Those stores are scheduled to open in 2012.