Tesco's holiday earnings up

Published on
January 10, 2013

Despite Tesco’s potential plans to sell Fresh & Easy, earnings for the U.S. grocery chain rose over the holiday season.

Total sales for Fresh & Easy rose 4.1 percent for the six weeks ending 5 January, while Tesco’s overall group sales increased 3.8 percent for the six weeks. “The performance was driven by a further improvement in our food business in-store and a strong contribution from online, which included our biggest ever week for Internet sales,” said Philip Clarke, chief executive of Tesco PLC.

Clarke remained tight-lipped on Tesco’s plans for divesting its Fresh & Easy brand. In October, 2012, the company said it was clear that Fresh & Easy would not deliver acceptable shareholder returns and that a “number of parties” were interested in acquiring all or part of Fresh & Easy or partnering to develop the Fresh & Easy business.

“We will update on progress on our strategic review of Fresh & Easy at our Preliminary Results in April, as planned,” Clarke said, referring to the upcoming release of the company’s annual fiscal report.

Meanwhile, Fresh & Easy debuted an expanded selection of seafood entrees and other healthy dishes in its “eatwell” prepared meals and sides line. Notably, many of the 20 new meals and sides feature seafood. Three new Fresh Fish Steamers, which retail for USD 5.99 (EUR 4.48) each, include: Salmon Alfredo Steamer, Soy Ginger Salmon Steamer, and Baja-style Fish Steamer. In addition, the new Thai-style Red Curry retails for between USD 4.49 (EUR 3.36) and USD 4.99 (EUR 3.74) each.

Seafood was likely featured in the new entrees because consumers see it as lighter, healthier option for the new year. ”This time of year, everyone is focused on keeping resolutions and eating better, which is why we’ve just introduced more nutritious eatwell products,” said John Burry, Fresh & Easy’s chief customer officer.

The eatwell expansion also includes several “Super Soups,” salads, and chicken and turkey entrees.

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