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    Tesco Shelves U.S. Expansion Plans

    Fresh & Easy operator taking a breather to assess performance.

    Britain's Tesco Plc has put the expansion of its Fresh & Easy stores in the United States on hold for three months to allow the business time to "settle down," according to a Bloomberg report.

    Tesco opened its first U.S. store last November and planned to add 50 outlets in California, Arizona and Nevada by February. The Cheshunt, England-based supermarket chain, which controls one third of the U.K. grocery market, also owns stores in emerging markets from Turkey to Malaysia and makes more than 25 percent of its sales outside Britain.

    "We've given ourselves a little bit of time to kick the tires, smooth out any wrinkles and make some improvements that customers have asked for," Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy marketing director, wrote on his Web log last week. "Quite simply, to allow the business we've created to settle down."

    The retailer plans to have about 200 U.S. stores by February 2009, it said in November, Bloomberg reported.

    "We've opened 31 stores in 66 days so far this year, now we're pausing for breath," Uwins wrote on March 26. "The next three months will allow us to accelerate this process, before we restart what's been described as an opening program on steroids."

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