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    Advertising Blitz Accompanies Fresh & Easy Openings

    The "neighborhood market" chain also re-launched its popular Shop for Schools fundraising program.

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The stop-and-start growth of Tesco’sFresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is about to start up again in California’s "Inland" area, along with something not seen since the chain debuted in late 2007—a large-scale multimedia promotional campaign, reported PE.com.

    Company spokesman Brendan Wonnacott told PE.com it will debut four new local stores by early October—one each in Cathedral City, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino, Calif.

    This week, Fresh & Easy also kicked off a promotional campaign in its three territories—Southern California, Phoenix and Las Vegas—with billboards, radio commercials, Internet banner ads and in-store posters touting recent changes made by the grocer.

    Over the past five months, those have included the addition of about 1,000 items, including family-sized meat packs, a larger array of frozen items and more lower-priced private-label goods. The chain also has added more national brands in some categories.

    Fresh & Easy has depended on weekly fliers and coupons, delivered to the mailboxes of homes near its current stores, to spread the word on its offerings. While officials maintain the store concept is steadily gaining acceptance among consumers, Fresh & Easy slowed its original expansion plans in the face of a tough economy.

    The advertising blitz comes after a series of format and marketing tweaks since Fresh & Easy debuted in Hemet, Calif., in November 2007. The small-format Fresh & Easy, the first U.S. grocery venture of U.K.-based Tesco , now has 125 stores open in three states.

    Also this week, Fresh & Easy relaunched its popular Shop for Schools fundraising program, based on positive feedback from customers and local schools. Registered schools are eligible to receive a $1 cash donation for every $20 spent at a Fresh & Easy store. At the end of the program, Fresh & Easy will award the top fundraising school in each state with a $5,000 bonus.

    Following a successful pilot program last school year, Fresh & Easy made several enhancements by increasing the length of this year’s program, providing more marketing materials for parents and teachers to use, and introducing a fundraising shopping night for registered schools. On these special shopping nights—the brainchild of a Las Vegas store employee—Fresh & Easy will donate 5 percent of a store’s sales from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. to local schools.

    "Our Shop for Schools pilot program was a huge hit and we are happy to bring back a new and improved version this school year," said Roberto Munoz, affairs director. "The incredible feedback we received from program participants, customers and store employees told us this program is not only needed but also a vital way for parents to raise money to be used for whatever each school needs most."

    Nearly 500 schools from the three states served by Fresh & Easy participated in the Shop for Schools pilot program held during the last school year. In all, 86 schools in Arizona, 322 in California and 86 in Nevada participated in the program raising thousands of dollars of needed funding to be used however the school liked.

    All eligible schools with students in kindergarten through eighth grade within a three-mile radius of a Fresh & Easy store can participate in the program. This school year’s Shop for Schools program will run from Sept. 15, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2009. Eligible schools were sent a registration form to participate in the program and can register through Oct. 1, 2009.

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