EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Tesco USA here has secured at least 31 locations in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona for the mini-supermarkets it is scheduled to begin opening in the second half of the year, according to reports published in the Financial Times of London.
Based on an examination of public documents — including liquor license applications and planning reports — the Financial Times identified nine locations in Southern California, 18 in Phoenix and surrounding cities in Arizona, and four in Las Vegas.
Tesco representatives declined comment last week on any specific plans or store locations.
Published reports also said the United Food and Commercial Workers union has offered to work with Tesco and “help establish a team of influential elected officials and community activists … who could fast-track site locations and permits.”
However, if Tesco were to decide to use non-union employees at its U.S. stores, “we will start a drive [to] let the public know they are not going union, and we will do what we can to stop them developing stores here,” the UFCW said in a letter last month to Terry Leahy, Tesco's chief executive officer.
Reports also surfaced last week that an environmental law firm filed suit late last year against Tesco USA on behalf of a group of local residents, charging that the process by which the city of Riverside gave Tesco approval to build an 88-acre distribution center did not include a full environmental impact review. The suit reportedly claims the project poses a potential threat to “a species of special concern” — the burrowing owl that is native to the area.
Tesco, which is based in the United Kingdom, has announced plans to open up to 300 stores in the Western U.S. over the next five years at a cost of approximately $2 billion. The stores are expected to be about 15,000 square feet, similar to a small supermarket, but with a strong focus on prepared foods.
Tim Mason, CEO of Tesco's U.S.-based operations, said last month, “We've found what we've been looking for for over 20 years — a winning format for the U.S. market. The new format is designed for the American market, following extensive consumer research and modeled on Tesco's highly successful and innovative Express format.”
However, Tesco has not indicated the banner under which the stores will operate.
The company said it expects the stores to create 2,500 new jobs in their first year of operation.
According to the Financial Times, one of the nine Southern California stores will be in Glassell Park, in Los Angeles County, in a former Albertsons located in a densely populated urban area northeast of downtown Los Angeles; four will be in Riverside County; two in Orange County; and one each in San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
The 18 Arizona stores will include six in Phoenix; four in Mesa; one in Chandler — in a new, upscale lakeside area slated for housing and retail development — and one each in Avondale, El Mirage, Gilbert, Queen Creek and Scottsdale.
Among the four Las Vegas stores, one will be in a new strip mall that includes doctors' offices, and one in a new building adjacent to a drug store and a mini-storage facility.