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    Tesco Eyes the Bright Lights of Vegas

    British retailer is reportedly adding the city to its list of U.S. expansion possibilities.

    LONDON -- Britain's biggest retailer Tesco Plc is adding Las Vegas to its list of U.S. expansion sites, according to a report by the Financial Times.

    The paper said the United Kingdom-based retailer has registered two U.S. subsidiaries -- Tesco Stores West and Tesco Stores Holdings -- in the city's home state of Nevada, as well as in California and Arizona, the two states the company pinpointed in March for the first wave of its 'Fresh & Easy' U.S. convenience stores.

    Tesco previously said it planned to make its U.S debut in 2007 with a convenience-oriented format in Los Angeles and Phoenix. The company has still to announce exactly how many stores it plans to open in the U.S. -- the Financial Times has reported at least 100 stores during its first year of operation in the country.

    A spokesman for Tesco could offer no further details and declined to comment on any plans the company has for stores in Las Vegas, saying, "We are getting on with building the business and can't say more until we are ready to show it to U.S. consumers."

    Without citing sources, the Financial Times added that commercial real estate brokers had said the chain is looking for sites in Las Vegas.

    Many industry observers feel Tesco's convenience stores will redefine the c-store experience in the U.S. Based on what little information the company has released and on the retailer's strategy in its home market (see Convenience Store News Aug. 7 issue, page 12), the U.S. version of Tesco is likely to focus heavily on meal concepts and fresh foods. And, not to be overlooked is the retailer's ability to execute its merchandising and operations efficiently.

    At the company's annual shareholder meeting, Tim Mason, who will oversee U.S. operations, told reporters that the U.S. stores would be small and compete directly against the likes of 7-Eleven and independent corner stores.

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