Tesco places troubled Fresh & Easy business up for sale

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Tesco placed its U.S. supermarket business Fresh & Easy on the sales bloc Wednesday, in conjunction with an announcement that Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason has left the company. 

"In October, we announced that new capital investment in Fresh & Easy was to be tightly constrained whilst the business focused on reducing costs and improving the profitability of its existing stores," noted Tesco CEO Philip Clarke. "It is now clear that Fresh & Easy will not deliver acceptable shareholder returns on an appropriate timeframe in its current form," he said. "Following a year in which my priority for Fresh & Easy was to improve its performance, I have now made a fully-informed assessment of its longer term potential. Whilst the business has many positives, its journey to scale and acceptable returns will take too long relative to other opportunities. I have therefore decided to conduct a strategic review of Fresh & Easy, with all options under consideration."

To that end Tesco appointed independent investment bank Greenhill to assist with a review of options. "In recent months, we have had a number of approaches from parties interested in acquiring either all or part of Fresh & Easy, or in partnering with us to develop the Fresh & Easy business," Clarke said. 

Regarding Mason, Clarke stated: "Tim Mason, who leaves Tesco today, has played an important part in our success over a 30 year career with the company, and he leaves with my thanks and good wishes."