A second Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market once planned for Nutmeg Street in Murrieta seemed more unlikely as news broke Wednesday that the chain's stores in Southern California and beyond will soon be closed or sold, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Owned by Britain's Tesco, the 199-market chain—which currently operates a Murrieta Hot Springs Road location—never quite caught on with American consumers, the news report indicated.
Analysts said the recession was partly to blame -- Fresh & Easy debuted in California, Nevada and Arizona in 2007, just as the economy was tanking. But, ultimately, consumers didn't warm to the concept.
"Though it attracted a small group of loyalists, Fresh & Easy largely failed to capture the imagination of American consumers who proved unaccustomed to British-style ready meals, self-service cash registers and unfamiliar store layouts," the Journal said.
Tesco's CEO told the paper: "It's likely, but not certain, that our presence in America will come to an end."
In response to an emailed inquiry in August, a spokesman for Fresh & Easy confirmed the company had taken its signage down from the Nutmeg location that remains vacant after never opening.
"We’ve heard from community members that the signage might cause confusion since the store is not open so we took it down," Spokesman Brendan Wonnacott told Murrieta Patch.