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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – As speculated, former 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Jim Keyes has reportedly been chosen to oversee Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market once the sale of 150 of the chain’s 200 stores is formally completed between Tesco plc and private equity firm Yucaipa Cos.
According to a published report citing industry sources, Keyes and Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Ashdown are meeting with employees at Fresh & Easy's stores and distribution center this week to discuss long-term plans for the company once Yucaipa completes the transaction in the next few weeks.
Keyes served as CEO of Dallas-based 7-Eleven from 2000 to 2005.
A Fresh & Easy spokesperson, however, said this latest report is still just rumor.
"There has not been an announcement regarding management [changes] at Fresh & Easy,” Brendan Wonnacott, director of neighborhood affairs for Fresh & Easy, told Progressive Grocer, a sister publication to Convenience Store News. “Any reports indicating otherwise are speculation."
Inquires by Progressive Grocer to Yucaipa were not returned by press time.
There has been much discussion about how the failed Tesco experiment will be reinvented once Los Angeles-based Yucaipa closes its deal to buy the company. Some industry experts say it will never work, while others say it just needs the right leadership to leverage its existing assets.
According to Fresh & Easy, the company’s assets include a world-class infrastructure designed to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of high-quality, fresh products, which provides Fresh & Easy the ability to provide the highest level of freshness and convenience available.
The 150 stores included in the Yucaipa purchase are spread throughout California, Arizona and Nevada. Most of the 50 locations not included in the deal will be shut down by tomorrow. Those stores have been running sales, offering products for as much as half off, according to media reports.