Fresh & Easy Has A Difficult Road Ahead
What's not surprising--to me, anyway--is that Fresh & Easy, Tesco's US operation, has, at the same time, made a loss of £142mn ($205mn).
I'm also impressed by the some of the wines. Indeed, I'm not the only one: so far they've garnered around 60 awards, including no less than nine from the San Francisco Chronicle's Wine Competition in February. One, Vista Point Chardonnay, which retails at a stunningly low $1.99, took a bronze medal at last year's San Francisco International Wine Competition, and also beat Trader Joe's "Two-Buck Chuck" in a recent blind tasting on the marvelously entitled Caroline on Crack website.
On the other hand, the two major downsides I'd noticed on my initial visit were very much still in evidence. There's simply not enough choice when it comes to non-Fresh & Easy-branded goods (cases in point: toiletries, dry goods and candy bars).
And expiration dates, a bugbear even with loyal customers, are still within the next few days. I welcome the idea of fresh food, but it gets ridiculous when you have to eat your entire week's groceries within the next three days. Anyway, I'm not sure I even trust the dates: a pack of cooked chicken ended up in the trash as it had gone bad by the morning of the expiration date (isn't there usually a little leeway?).
Fresh & Easy confirmed to me that they won't break even by the end of 2009 (as suspected), and there's no date for when they will. They are continuing to open in the US, but there are no further OC stores planned for the near future.
What's your experience of F&E? Have you been impressed or disappointed?