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Tesco’s Fresh & Easy Venture Under Fire From Shareholders

April 9, 2012

U.K. retailer Tesco is reportedly coming under pressure from shareholders to abandon its Fresh & Easy branded store venture in the U.S. market. Multiple U.K. media outlets have reported dissatisfaction among key Tesco shareholders including Legal & General Investment Management, its fourth-largest shareholder with a 4% stake. Others, including former fifth-largest shareholder Invesco Perpetual, which sold its entire stake after Tesco issued a profit warning in January, have already bolted.

Tesco will release its annual financials—and a strategic review by CEO Phil Clarke—on April 18. In its last fiscal year Fresh & Easy—which operates 180 stores across California, Arizona and Nevada—reported a loss of $300 million. The chain was launched in 2007 with Tesco initially investing $2 billion over a five-year period. Initial projections called for expansion to 1,000 units. Tesco now expects Fresh & Easy to break even by February 2013 (the end of its fiscal 2012-2013) and to have 300 locations up and running by then. Fresh & Easy stocks more than 450 wines selling from $1.99 to $40 a bottle.

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