Fresh and Easy's fate unknown

Parent company to pull out of the United States

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 02:30 AM PDT Apr 18, 2013    UPDATED: 06:51 PM PDT Apr 17, 2013 
Fresh and Easy
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The parent company of 200 Fresh and Easy grocery stores announced it is pulling out of the United States.

Less than a year ago, Santa Barbara's Fresh and Easy opened its doors to crowds of people, but the company has struggled financially.

Tesco, the UK-based parent company, confirmed it is heading back across the pond.

"I guess it's part of the business. I mean if they're not making money," said Francisco Antunez, who purchased lunch at the convenience store on Wednesday afternoon.

The money troubles don't come as a shock to some customers. One woman saw a brand-new building get constructed in Palm Desert, but then that was it.

"I'm saying it doesn't surprise me because they built an entire store there and never opened it," said Dawn Geering.

Goleta's very own Fresh and Easy was supposed to open its doors at the old Santa Barbara Motorsports on the corner of Fairview Avenue and Calle Real, but that never happened.

The stores have been deemed unprofitable but Tesco said there is interest from third parties to buy the chain. However, the grocery stores still have an uncertain future as no one has stepped up to the plate just yet.

Many shoppers don't want to see the neighborhood store go, especially after other businesses have left the area.

"It's my quick fix after we lost Scolari's. I was like, 'Well now where am I going to go?' I have to go up to the mesa or go downtown," said Denise Meza as she walked out with a cart full of groceries.

An employee of the Santa Barbara store told NewsChannel 3 that workers have known for months Tesco was heading home, and now employees are hoping for a buyer soon.

Company Chief Executive Philip Clarke said moving out of the United States is an ongoing process, and how and when the company will leave is yet to be determined.