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Fresh & Easy Seeks to Reassure Customers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market here has sent an email letter to its “friends” — holders of its “friends rewards” cards — asking them to continue shopping at the stores.

The subject line on the email read, “A note to our friends.” In the text, the company wrote, “Our parent company Tesco is conducting a strategic review of Fresh & Easy. They’re looking at all options to find the best outcome for the neighborhood market that you — and we — have come to love.

“While we don’t know exactly what that outcome will be or if Tesco will continue to own the company, we’re confident that Fresh & Easy can continue to be your favorite market.

“We want to assure you we don’t have plans to close stores. We’re still Fresh & Easy — open for business with everything that you enjoy about our store, with even more exciting things to come. That’s why we’re going to keep on fighting the good food fight.”

At the bottom of the email is a logo that reads: “Still Fighting the Good Food Fight.”

Fresh & Easy, the U.S. arm of United Kingdom-based Tesco, operates 200 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. Tesco said in December it was considering exiting the U.S. by closing or selling all the stores, with an announcement expected when it holds its annual meeting in April.

Separately, a San Diego Superior Court has imposed a fine of $833,136 on Fresh & Easy for overcharging on meat and seafood items.

Prosecutors alleged that Fresh & Easy had charged customers more at checkout for certain products than the prices listed on shelves and had marked meat and seafood packages at a higher price per pound than indicated on the shelves.

Weights and measures officials in 12 California counties recorded instances of price fraud during 124 inspections at 82 Fresh & Easy stores.

The judge also ordered Fresh & Easy to implement a “Get It Free” program for the next three years. If the retailer overcharges for an item at the register, the customer will be entitled to $3 off the lowest advertised price, or to get the item free if it is priced at less than $3.

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