Tesco goes green in US

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Tesco, the UK supermarket chain, is to wrap itself emphatically in green as it enters the US grocery market this year, overtaking even leading organic and natural competitors in its enthusiasm for the colour.

The retailer will launch a network of small “neighbourhood market” stores under a green-shaded “Fresh & Easy” logo, abandoning both the name Tesco and its traditional corporate colours of red, white and blue.

About half of the facade of the new Fresh & Easy stores will consist of a green panel surrounding high windows, according to plans seen by the FT (see below).

Tesco’s enthusiasm for the colour out-greens both Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats, the more upmarket leading US organic and natural grocers.

Green also dominates on Tesco’s freshandeasy.com US corporate website, and colours the new business cards of its US executives.

Tesco says the US store format “is dedicated to environmentally friendly business practices”.

It is adding solar panels to some of its stores and it has announced plans to build a $13m solar panel array to provide power for its distribution centre being built in Riverside, California, which is believed to be the world’s largest.

At a store level, “waste will be minimised by recycling or reusing all shipping materials and energy consumption will be reduced with modified fridges and lighting”, it says. And in what may be an optimistic gesture, some of its stores in car-obsessed Los Angeles will feature bicycle racks by the main entrance.

Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco’s chief executive, last month set out ambitious targets for the retailer on carbon emission transparency and other issues, noting that the US operation “is also placing a big emphasis on reducing energy and carbon emissions”.

The company is planning scores of stores in southern California, Arizona and Nevada. With about 10,000 sq ft of sales space, the stores will be about a third of the size of even the smallest traditional US supermarkets, offering a focused selection of fresh and packaged food in an easy-in-easy-out format.

Tim Mason, head of Tesco’s US operation, said the stores, located close to high-density housing, had been “designed to draw customers back to their local neighbourhoods”.

Tesco has yet to say how many stores will be in its first wave of openings. However, it has applied for licences to sell alcohol in more than 40 locations in the three states.

Tesco’s stress on sustainability mirrors a similar push by Wal-Mart, the largest US retailer, which is seeking proposals for a potentially massive solar power project covering stores in five states.

Whole Foods, Staples and Walgreens are also pursuing solar power initiatives at their stores.

Elevation of typical Fresh & Easy store (source: real estate sales plans)

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