Recently I received an e-mail from a business site that monitors branding related issues, and this time one of their featured articles was on British companies trying to carve out a niche in the American market place. One of the companies featured was Tesco, a British company that’s considered similar to Wal-Mart that’s been launching “Fresh And Easy” stores here in California since November. Their approach for the US market is creating “Neighborhood Market” stores which are similar to supermarkets but smaller and getter emphasis on meeting community needs (meaning the stores will have the freedom to cater to local community tastes). They also emphasize a more environmentally friendly store, and carry a large selection of organic and more natural type product mix.
Since the concept sounded interesting I thought I’d check it out since there happens to be a store in Escondido, California that’s not too far from my path to and from work. And liked the green color scheme and the big windows allowing for lots of natural light to come in. I found the people working there to be really friendly and helpful and some interesting product choices. The store definitely had the appeal of a Trader Joe’s store except with not nearly the same kind of floor space devoted to wine and alcohol as a Trader Joe’s store. It really did feel like a hybrid between a Trader Joe’s store and a traditional supermarket as there were familiar brand names in the store mixed in the definitely more appealing look of the Fresh and Easy products.
There was definitely a large emphasis on store label products with the Fresh And Easy brand logo. The prices certainly seemed very reasonable and I elected to buy a few items. The had a great looking section of prepared foods which looked great and convenient. This has been a hallmark of Trader Joe’s and some of the other more stores aiming for the natural and organic foods market like San Diego’s own Jimbo’s Naturally, and the nationally known Whole Foods Markets. Some of the prepared items I wasn’t quite so adventurous to try, but some I’m definitely looking forward to trying on future visits.
One of the things I did like about their produce section that felt quite different from other markets is that everything is already conveniently packaged. Such as potatoes in packages containing two good sized potatoes for baking so that it’s easy to just buy what you’re going to use and come back to the store when you’re in the mood for more. It’s like it was ready to go and be used immediately. Even the meat section was all prepared and packaged in convenient size packages ready to be cooked the second you open the package.
I was definitely impressed and will be back, but the only complaint I have, is how can you be a British food company and not stock HP Sauce?!?! Even my local Vons carries HP Sauce.