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This was one of the first 16 stores that Fresh & Easy opened in the U.S., and this was — and still is — in Los Angeles. But now the British-owned chain, after a $1.6 billion investment, will likely leave the U.S. market or see its parent, Tesco, sell it.
The L.A. Times reported last year that Fresh & Easy, a relatively newly arrived grocery chain owned by Britain's Tesco, would be closing stores in the U.S., including seven in California.
At the time, the LAT quoted a Fresh & Easy spokesman who said that it would continue to grow in the U.S.:
Despite the store closings...Fresh & Easy will maintain a brisk pace of expansion, with an average of 50 stores opening per year.
More than two dozen new stores will open their doors through March, including seven smaller-format Express stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties and five stores in Sacramento.
KPCC Business Reporter Wendy Lee filed a story Thursday that suggests those plans have changed. And the Wall Street Journal has a long story about how Fresh & Easy is a $ 1 billion-plus debacle for Tesco and quotes Clarke declaring that it's "likely, but not certain, that our presence in America will come to an end."
UPDATE: A commenter has me thinking that Three Wishes may be produced by...the same people who make the Chuck (The Bronco Wine Company)! A bit of an interesting "conspiracy" in the ultra-cheap wine world? It would create an interesting wrinkle in Whole Foods' "chuck the Chuck" argument. I'll see what I can learn...
A little more than a month ago, Whole Foods rolled out an alternative to Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck," the lineup of $1.99 Charles Shaw wines that have been wildly successful for the retailer. Whole Foods isn't kidding around: "chuck the Chuck" is its sales pitch.
I've always believed that Two-Buck Chuck is among the most imporant wines every introduced. The wines aren't very good. But they have made it possible for people to load up on wine and drink it more frequently. Brilliant. Plus, the brand has become an institution and eliminated much of an anxiety that wine seems to induce. It comes in a premium-type wine bottle and it has a cork. It's not a jug wine. It's not a box wine. It's not rotgut.
Here’s a story we’re following closely at SCPR/KPCC: the possibility of a strike by grocery workers in Southern California: 62,000 of them, who work at Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons stores. Over the weekend, the United Food and Commercial Workers union voted to authorize a strike -- which isn’t the same thing as going on strike. But it does set the stage.
The last time there was a strike, in 2003-04, it didn’t go well for the the major unionized chains. This from the LA Times:
The drawn-out negotiations has area grocery workers nervously recalling the bitter debate over wages and healthcare benefits that led them to the picket lines seven years ago. In fall 2003, the labor dispute led to a contentious 141-day strike and worker lockout that affected hundreds of California grocery stores.