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• Tesco announced this week that it has chosen seven sites in San Diego for its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format, and that it is looking for additional locations.

The format, scheduled to be unveiled later this year, will first be seen in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

• The Los Angeles Times in its editorial pages lauds Tesco for being willing to open one of its new stores in the inner city neighborhood of South Los Angeles.

“British grocery giant Tesco, seeking to make a big debut in the United States with its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain, is planning to build a store at Adams Boulevard and Central Avenue,” the Times writes. “Like rivals such as Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy markets will be relatively small and will carry produce, meats and prepared dishes at low prices. Unlike some of its rivals, Tesco appears to have an open mind about taking a chance on lower-income neighborhoods.

“The company, which owns a third of the British grocery market, has figured out how to make its stores work in such neighborhoods in Britain. That may be why it's willing to open Fresh & Easy markets in Pico Rivera and Fontana — and not just in Manhattan Beach and Laguna Hills. Still unknown is whether the markets will satisfy lower-income shoppers' needs and what kind of employer the hyper-efficient Tesco will turn out to be.

“But for the time being, its South L.A. experiment may remind other grocers that there is opportunity in underserved neighborhoods.”
KC's View:
Moving into the inner city may be the most interesting part of the Tesco experiment in the US – challenging the truism that such stores cannot be viable in lower income urban markets. Good for Tesco for trying something that not a lot of other chains are doing.