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    Tesco Focuses on U.S. Expansion

    Board meeting will take place in Hollywood during 2008 to show support for its new venture.

    LONDON -- Tesco's leader, Terry Leahy, and fellow directors of Tesco, are planning to travel to Hollywood, Calif., to hold a board meeting, in an effort to show support for the company's venture into the U.S. grocery market, the Telegraph reported.

    The board will gather in 2008, following the opening of its first Fresh & Easy store in November, according to the report.

    If its U.S. debut is successful, the company plans to open 250 stores there in its first year, adding to approximately 450 other international stores in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, about 140 new Tesco shops will open in Britain, the report stated.

    However, it isn't about quantity at Tesco. Philip Clarke, the company's director of international and IT, told the paper the overseas expansion was pleasing, but insisted the company was not preoccupied by the number of outlets it had.

    "I don't even think about the number of stores," he said. "My brief is not to create Tesco in every market but to create the right Tesco."

    In other Tesco news, the company's Fresh & Easy stores will focus its U.S. operations on a "customer assistant," a shift from traditional approaches to the country's food store staffing, reported the Financial Times.

    The company already divulged that its 10,000-square-foot stores will be focused around a Kitchen Table information desk, where staff will answer questions and make suggestions about products and possible menus, the report stated.

    The customer assistant will be "the face of your Fresh & Easy store" whose "main job will be to ensure that customers are delighted," according to a recently posted job advertisement cited by the newspaper. The assistants will keep customers informed about Fresh & Easy's products and about special offers, in addition to traditional store operation tasks such as rotating and date-checking food and keeping aisles clear, the report stated. The ads imply that each store will have three full-time personnel -- a store manager, team leader and customer assistant -- as well as part-time cashiers and stockers.

    The approach is an attempt to balance the need to create a positive and distinct in-store experience for its customers, while at the same time, keeping staff costs competitive.

    Customer assistants are also meant to be the frontline for customer feedback, with ads stating assistants will be "encouraged to make recommendations," and "when you talk, we will listen," the report stated.

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