SPOTLIGHT ON .... Are Fresh & Easy Markets Failing?

British supermarket giant Tesco thought it had the Yanks all figured out. Determined to crack the U.S. market, it dispatched executives to live with American families, peek into their refrigerators and trail them on trips to the grocery store. It boasted of revolutionizing how Americans shopped. But slightly more than five years after it opened its first Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in California, Tesco is considering selling the money-losing chain and leaving the United States altogether. An E-mail sent to shoppers recently acknowledged that the grocer doesn't know "if Tesco will continue to own the company." The 200-store operation in California, Arizona and Nevada represents an estimated $2-billion flop: a $1-billion investment on top of about $1 billion in cumulative annual losses. "Tesco's failure will rank as one of the biggest among food retailers in modern supermarket history," said Burt Flickinger III, managing director at retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group in New York. Story