Tesco is an awful name for a company that sells food, don’t you think? Makes me think of Texaco, or Test-co, or something else that starts with “test” which I won’t mention here. Perhaps that’s one reason why you won’t see the name Tesco anywhere on the UK grocery giant’s long-awaited, very expensive entry into the U.S. market.
Tesco’s U.S. stores are called, “Fresh & Easy,” which sounds… fresh… and easy (also could be a great name for an online dating site).
Tesco has spent three years investigating how Americans shop and came up with a store concept it thinks solves the most unique dilemma it found here: we tend to shop at several stores to buy groceries because we can’t find everything we want in one place. Fresh & Easy hopes to be that one place.
In learning all this, the British research team--aware of the cutthroat nature of the U.S. grocery business--worked in a very James Bond-like fashion going store to store. No credit cards were used, everything was bought using bags of cash! They sometimes posed as Hollywood producers, or cafe owners. The whole thing smacked of a spy novel, or maybe more like NASA observing Martians. But after all that, the first six of 122 stores are opening Thursday, and I got an exclusive sneak peak inside.
So here’s what a Fresh & Easy store is like. It’s about the size of a Walgreen’s, small for a grocery store. It has an upbeat, lemon-lime paint scheme, but the layout is very simple and straightforward. Everything is pre-packaged and displayed on easy grab-and-go shelves. The food is very fresh, with few additives (watch out, Whole Foods), and it is all very reasonably priced.