Yucaipa Cos. 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, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Fresh & Easy - which has locations in Burbank and Eagle Rock - operates more than 150 U.S. stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and employs more than 4,000 people.

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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