NEW YORK — Given the broad geography of its stores across the U.S. and Canada, Safeway is "optimistic" about prospects for developing new formats once it has completed upgrading its store base to the lifestyle format over the next two years, Robert Edwards, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said here yesterday. In other remarks at the annual Morgan Stanley Global Consumer & Retail Conference, Edwards echoed remarks by other Safeway executives that the company might consider smaller-format stores similar to the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets Tesco began opening in the West last week. "If there is profit in a small-format vehicle, we could easily duplicate it, though it would be a challenge to make a small box work, so the jury is still out on that," he indicated. Asked Safeway's reaction to the Fresh & Easy stores, Edwards said, "Our early read is, it looks more like a price vehicle than a fresh vehicle."
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