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    Fresh & Easy Acquisition Could Relaunch Wild Oats Banner

    Former 7-Eleven CEO Jim Keyes would lead the new venture.

    YUCAIPA, Calif. -- Billionaire Ron Burkle is in talks to buy Tesco plc's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain and utilize the stores to relaunch the Wild Oats brand, according to a report by Bloomberg.

    Jim Keyes, former CEO of 7-Eleven Inc. and Blockbuster Inc., owns the Wild Oats name and would serve as CEO of the new company should the transaction come to fruition.

    As CSNews Online reported in April, Phillip Clarke, CEO of London-based Tesco, confirmed the company's plans to exit the U.S. market due to the continued underperformance of its Fresh & Easy stores. Tesco had to take an approximate $1.5 billion writedown as part of the exit.

    "The announcements made today are natural consequences of the strategic changes we first began over a year ago and which conclude today," Clarke stated in April."With profound and rapid change in the way consumers live their lives, our objective is to be the best multichannel retailer for customers."

    Fresh & Easy operates 199 stores in Nevada, California and Arizona. The chain did not earn a net profit since its 2007 inception.

    Burkle, who founded Yucaipa Cos. in Yucaipa, Calif., in 1986, often invests in what he considers to be troubled companies. He is also interested in buying part of grocery chain Supervalu Inc., according to the news outlet.

    Officials from Yucaipa and Tesco both declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

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