Fresh & Easy Opens First Express Store in L.A.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The first Fresh & Easy Express — a 3,000-square-foot version of Tesco [4]'s 10,000-square-foot U.S. format — is scheduled to open Wednesday in a densely populated urban section of Los Angeles.

The company said it plans to open four more Express stores in Southern California on a trial basis before the end of its fiscal year in late February — in Hermosa Beach, Seal Beach, Laguna Niguel and San Pedro.

Brendan Wonnacott, a Fresh & Easy spokesman, said all five locations are geared to attracting a lot of walk-in business. "These stores will all be located in very walkable neighborhoods, with a lot of foot traffic, which is part of the Express model," he told SN.

The stores feature approximately 2,700 SKUs, compared with about 5,500 at a standard Fresh & Easy, he noted — achieved through fewer facings of virtually all items and shelving that is less deep. The first store features an extensive line of grab-and-go prepared meals on two sides of a 48-foot island display just opposite the entrance, alongside convenience-sized drinks and a broad but edited assortment of produce and meat items along the wall next to the entry.

There are also large assortments of chilled and unchilled beer and wine, along with a bake-off bakery, plus sections for grocery, deli, frozen foods and health and beauty aids in the four-aisle store.

Wonnacott declined to pinpoint the company's volume expectations for the Express format stores. "That remains to be seen," he said.