Fresh & Easy to shut down operations
LOS ANGELES — Fresh & Easy announced Wednesday that it was closing its business but holding out hope for a buyer.
The grocery chain has struggled for years in Southern California, Los Angeles Times reported.
A spokesperson for the El Segundo chain, Brendan Wonnacott, said the company was starting “the process for an organized wind-down.” According to Wonnacott, the chain doesn’t have enough cash and wasn’t able to obtain financing to continue operations. This is despite the company’s progress over the last couple of years that has moved it “closer to break even.”
The company operates 97 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona.
Over the next few weeks, stores are being liquidated and closed, and layoffs are starting in the corporate office next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly. Three thousand employees have received the state-mandated “WARN Act” layoff notices.
The company has struggled since it opened in 2007. The chain was British supermarket giant Tesco’s first venture into the United States. The new company was billed as a European version of Trader Joe’s, offering an assortment of groceries, fresh products and ready-made meals.
The chain grew to 200 locations but was always unprofitable. In 2013, Fresh & Easy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.