Tesco heads to Greater Arizona with 'fresh & easy' format

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Tesco will start its assault on the US market from 20 stores in and around Phoenix, Arizona, called Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

Shoppers popping into one of the 10,000 sq ft outlets will have no idea their dollars are going to swell the profits of the UK's biggest grocer because there will be no sign of the Tesco brand, with its familiar red, blue and white livery. Instead, the UK chain has taken to heart its chief executive Sir Terry Leahy's edict to go green: the Fresh & Easy logo is bright green, featuring a clock superposed on an apple in the top right-hand corner.

Tim Mason, Tesco's US boss, who is tipped to succeed Sir Terry, said the new stores were designed to "draw customers back to their local neighbourhoods by offering high quality, fresh and nutritious food at affordable prices". Tesco said the stores in the Greater Phoenix area would open "later this year". It is also targeting Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. It plans to employ more than 2,500 staff on top of 150 already working at its US headquarters in El Segundo, California.

Mr Mason was speaking at a ceremony to launch the new concept in US retailing that was hosted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. "Our company has enjoyed strong success in countries throughout Europe and Asia, and we are excited to bring that success to America. We believe the Greater Phoenix region is an excellent place to begin that journey."

The company is investing £250m in the US this year, but analysts expect that figure to grow substantially if Tesco is to buck the trend of UK retailers failing across the Atlantic. Analysts believe Tesco can service up to 1,000 stores from the 820,400 sq ft distribution centre it is building in Riverside, California. The building will have the world's biggest solar panel roof, underlying Sir Terry's new-found desire to save the planet.

Confirmation of Tesco's US plans came as industry figures revealed its market share growth in the UK last month lagged that of J Sainsbury and Asda.