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Ron Burkle's Yucaipa buying Fresh & Easy stores from Tesco

Billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. is buying the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain from Britain-based Tesco, the companies announced Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fresh & Easy operates more than 150 U.S. stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and employs more than 4,000 people.

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After six unprofitable years, Tesco announced in December that it intended to sell its Fresh & Easy stores, which it built from scratch in 2007.

The acquisition by Yucaipa is expected to be completed in three months, Yucaipa said in a news release. "In the meantime, it is business as usual for most Fresh & Easy stores," the company said.

"The decision we are announcing today represents the best outcome for Tesco shareholders and Fresh & Easy's stakeholders," Philip Clarke, Tesco's chief executive, said in a statement. "It offers us an orderly and efficient exit from the U.S. market, while protecting the jobs of more than 4,000 colleagues at Fresh & Easy."

Burkle said: "Fresh & Easy is a tremendous foundation. Tesco should be applauded for giving their customers an affordable, healthy, convenient shopping experience. Its dedicated employees and great base of customers give us a solid starting point to complete Tesco's vision with some changes that we think will make it even more relevant to today's consumer. We plan on continuing to build Fresh & Easy into a next-generation convenience retail experience, providing busy consumers with more local and healthy access for their daily needs."

The Yucaipa Cos., founded in 1986 and based in Los Angeles, is a major investor in retail, manufacturing and distribution.

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