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    Tesco On Track for Big U.S. Debut in 2007

    Company hires head office staff, acquires land.

    LONDON -- Tesco, the $59 billion, United Kingdom-based retailer, appears to be on track to open at least 100 stores in its first year of operations in the U.S., starting in 2007. According to the Financial Times, Tesco is looking at sites ranging from 14,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet in the Los Angeles and Phoenix areas for a convenience store concept it calls Fresh & Easy. The format will be substantially larger than the current 2,000 square foot to 4,000 square foot Tesco Express convenience stores the retailer operates in England.

    Tim Mason, who will oversee Tesco's operations in the U.S., told reporters at the company’s annual shareholder meeting that "quite a number" of stores will be opened, but declined to give specific figures. However, the company has already acquired land for the construction of a new U.S. distribution facility in Riverdale, Calif., and has recruited about a third of its head office staff so far. "We are over 60 now, the vast majority of whom are American," Mason said. According to Dow Jones reports, Tesco has recruited its U.S. chief financial officer from Korea, Remco Waller, who will help Mason run the U.S. division. Tesco previously said it would spend 250 million (British pounds) annually from existing funds to finance development of the U.S. division.

    According to reports, Mason also told reporters that the stores would be small and compete directly against the likes of 7-Eleven and independent corner stores. CSNews provides glimpse at one of the newest Tesco Express stores in London in its August 7th issue.

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