Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. (31638)

Fresh and Easy, the local chain of small grocery stores created by United Kingdom food giant Tesco that began with such promise in 2007, announced early last week that three-quarters of its 200 locations are being sold to the investment firm Yucaipa Cos.

As a result, 4,000 of the firm’s 5,000 employees will remain with the new company and about one-quarter of the existing stories will be closed. The sale is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, according to Yucaipa.

Ron Burkle, managing partner of Yucaipa said, “Fresh & Easy is a tremendous foundation. Tesco should be applauded for giving their customers an affordable, healthy, convenient shopping experience. Its dedicated employees and great base of customers give us a solid starting point to complete Tesco’s vision with some changes that we think will make it even more relevant to today’s consumer. We plan on continuing to build Fresh & Easy into a “next-generation convenience retail experience,” providing busy consumers with more local and healthy access for their daily needs.”

Calls to 12 stores in Compton, Harbor City, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Paramount found that only the Paramount location on Alondra and Downey boulevards will close. It is expected to shut its doors by Friday, unless all items are sold out before then.

During its five years of existence, Fresh and Easy never made a profit, although according to industry watcher, Jim Prevor, known as the Perishable Pundit, by October of last year 55 of the stores had reached “profitability.”

But the chain—which in some instances such as the stores in Compton (Rosecrans and Central avenue) and South Los Angeles (Central Avenue/Adams Boulevard and Alameda Boulevard at Florence Avenue) opened in communities starved for a major grocery store—was never able to find its economic footing in the competitive food retail market in the three states it had opened stores—Arizona, California and Nevada.

According to Yucaipa, the Fresh & Easy assets include a world-class infrastructure designed to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of high-quality, fresh products to every store, every day. This capability gives Fresh & Easy the ability to provide the highest level of freshness and convenience available.