Oct 30 Fresh & Easy filed its second bankruptcy
in two years on Friday after billionaire Ron Burkle was unable
to turn around the West Coast grocery chain, which is in the
process of closing down.
Burkle's Yucaipa Cos investment firm agreed to acquire more
than 150 Fresh & Easy stores out of the chain's 2013 bankruptcy.
British grocer Tesco Plc launched Fresh & Easy in
2006 with many industry analysts expecting the deep-pocketed
company to challenge the dominance of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
. However, the poorly timed move centered on the U.S.
Southwest just as the region's overheated housing market was
Tesco provided Yucaipa with $120 million to help fund the
Fresh & Easy's website on Friday was topped with a banner
proclaiming "Everything must go!" and "All Stores Closing!"
The El Segundo, California-based company said in papers
filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, that it
had between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities, and
less than $50 million in assets.
Yucaipa also owned a stake in the Northeast supermarket
chain Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co Inc, better
known as A&P, which filed for bankruptcy in July.
Fresh & Easy's closure coincides with the recent bankruptcy
of rival grocer Haggen Holdings, which fumbled an ambitious
expansion into the U.S. Southwest.
Haggen agreed in January to acquire 146 supermarkets from
the much-larger Albertsons chain, which was required to divest
the stores to merge with Safeway. At the time, Haggen had only
18 stores in its Pacific Northwest stronghold.
Haggen is selling stores in southern California and Nevada
with initial bids from Smart & Final and regional upscale
supermarket chain Gelson's.
The case is Fresh & Easy LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
District of Delaware, No. 15-12220.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by