The equity firm controlled by billionaire Ron Burkle announced today it is buying El Segundo-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market -- which has a distribution hub in Riverside -- from U.K.-based Tesco, but terms of the deal were not released.
The deal, in which Yucaipa Cos. will assume the Fresh & Easy's debt, is expected to be completed in about three months.
We've called all the Fresh & Easy stores in the desert regarding which stores will be closing, and this is what we've learned:
Palm Springs - A clerk says they have not heard if they are closing yet.
Cathedral City - A clerk says they are still open and have not been told if they will close yet. They said if all their items go on sale tomorrow then that means they will close.
Palm Desert - Clerk would not disclose any information, and referred us to the corporate office.
La Quinta - Clerk told us they will be closing in two weeks, and tomorrow all items will go on sale.
Indio - Clerk says they will be closing once they sell all their inventory, which will all go on sale tomorrow.
``Fresh & Easy is a tremendous foundation,'' Burkle said. ``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.''
Yucaipa Cos., founded in 1986, has used leveraged buyouts to acquire majority positions in grocery store chains such as Ralphs and Kroger. More recently, Yucaipa Cos. bought a stake in The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. and Barney's New York.
Philip Clarke, Tesco's chief executive, said the sale was the best for Tesco shareholders and Fresh & Easy's stakeholders.
``It offers us an orderly and efficient exit from the US market, while protecting the jobs of more than 4,000 colleagues at Fresh & Easy,'' he said.
Fresh & Easy, which targeted California and the Southwest when it entered the U.S. market in 2007, has about 150 stores nationwide. Tesco is the No. 3 retailer worldwide in terms of sales, behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Carrefour SA.