US: Billionaire Burkle "in talks to buy Fresh & Easy"

By Dean Best | 13 June 2013

Fresh & Easy has yet to turn a profit in six years

Fresh & Easy has yet to turn a profit in six years

US billionaire investor Ron Burkle is reportedly in discussions to buy Tesco's US chain Fresh & Easy.

Bloomberg cited anonymous sources who said the two sides were in talks. Burkle, founder and managing partner of US investment fund Yucaipa Cos., wants to rebrand the Fresh & Easy outlets under the Wild Oats banner, the report said.

The Wild Oats banner ended in 2007 when the natural and organic retailer was acquired by rival Whole Foods Market. Bloomberg said former 7-Eleven CEO Jim Keyes owns the Wild Oats name and would run the new chain of stores owned by Burkle.

When contacted by just-food, a Fresh & Easy spokesperson declined to comment. "We don’t comment on rumour or speculation," the spokesperson said. Officials at Yucaipa could not be reached for immediate comment.

Tesco said in April it would quit the US after six unsuccessful years in the market. The Fresh & Easy chain has yet to make a profit. The retailer said in April it had received offers for the business, both for the whole of the chain and parts of the operations.

"Two weeks ago we received our first set of indicative offers from prospective buyers. Encouragingly, there are a number of organisations that want to buy the business in its entirety, so those are the ones we're pursuing with earnest," CFO Laurie McIlwee said at the time.

Sectors: Mergers & acquisitions, Retail

Companies: Fresh & Easy, Tesco, Whole Foods Market, 7-Eleven

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