Tesco to expand US stores into Chicago

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The Independent Online

Tesco is set to open an office in Chicago ahead of launching Fresh & Easy convenience stores there, as it seeks to expand its fledgling convenience store chain beyond the west coast.

The world's third-largest retailer has a team of property executives who are poised to move to Chicago to identify potential locations for a distribution centre and store location in and around the Midwest city.

The revelation is the clearest indication yet that Tesco intends to gain geographical spread in the US beyond the 71 Fresh & Easy stores it has already opened in southern California, Arizona and Nevada. This week, Tesco revealed it is to open cash and carry stores in India, and supply products and services to Indian conglomerate Tata's hypermarket chain, Star Bazaar. This gives the com-pany a presence in the three biggest retail markets: the US, China and India.

Tesco has lined up Matthew Price, a real estate director at Fresh & Easy, to head its property acquisition team in Chicago. Dunnhumby, which operates Tesco's Clubcard, has an office in Chicago, but it is unclear when Fresh & Easy will open there. A Tesco spokesman said: "At the moment, our focus is very much on the west coast and opening stores there."