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Report: Tesco could exit U.S. if Fresh & Easy doesn’t improve

NEW YORK — U.K. retailing giant Tesco PLC could give up its American supermarket venture, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, if the chain continues to disappoint and not make a profit, according to various news reports.

In remarks at the company’s annual meeting on Friday, Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said: “If we see there is no chance of success, we’ll do as we’ve just done in Japan,” referring to Tesco’s deal this month to exit that market.

At the same time, however, Clarke sounded an upbeat note about the U.S. venture’s prospects, RetailWeek reported. “Fresh & Easy is improving as a business and I can assure you that it is receiving close attention from the executive team,” he said. “We believe there is great value in the business and, if we get it right, an excellent stream of growth in future years.”

Clarke has refused to bow to shareholder pressure to set a target date for when Fresh & Easy, which launched in 2007, would finally begin to make a profit.

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