Determined to make its mark on the fiercely competitive U.S. supermarket arena, one of the world's largest retailers has launched an all-new grocery store chain that aims to stand out from the crowd by delivering on its very name, “Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.”
At press time, Fresh & Easy had 43 stores open in its initial target market of Southern California, Nevada and Arizona, and as of this month it was slated to have 50 stores up and running. The company is a subsidiary of Great Britain's Tesco, which ranks as the world's third-largest international retailer.
“Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is different than any other supermarket,” says chief marketing officer Simon Uwins. “We found U.S. customers were shopping lots of different stores to piece together their weekly shopping trip, so we put together a format to simplify customers' lives.”
In addition, Uwins says the firm has “made it a priority to reduce its impact on the environment. From solar panels to recycling, we're doing everything we can to reduce emissions, use energy efficiently, and be environmentally responsible in all facilities and operations.”
Part and parcel to that environmental commitment, Fresh & Easy is a pilot member of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's Green Building Volume Certification program.
The upshot of that involvement is the company estimates its buildings will use 30% less energy than a typical grocery store.
Not content to stop being green at the stores' doors, the company has also rolled out a “green” trailer for its El Segundo, CA-based distribution fleet.
“Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is in a unique position to deliver fresh, affordable, high-quality food into the neighborhoods in which we operate and to do so safely and in the best interest of the environment,” points out CEO Tim Mason. “As a new company in the U.S., we have had the opportunity to work with leaders in ‘green technology’ to create, from the ground up, an entire fleet of aerodynamic, fuel-efficient and neighborhood-conscious trailers in our first round of manufacturing.”
The refrigerated trailers boast a recently introduced hybrid reefer unit, the Carrier Transicold Vector 1800MT multi-temperature system, which uses Carrier's Deltek diesel-electric technology.
“The Vector 1800MT supports our green initiatives and is the only refrigeration unit available with a true hybrid diesel-electric platform,” says Dan Parilo, Fresh & Easy's manager of transportation & operations. “Not only do we get exceptional efficiency and reliability through Vector's streamlined design, it also helps us reduce our environmental impact.”
The Vector 1800MT unit integrates a diesel engine with an all-electric refrigeration system. The diesel drives a high-output electric generator that powers all components.
Parilo notes the Vector system allows shutting down the engine and plugging the unit into an electric power supply for loading at the distribution center and unloading at stores. He advises that this standby capability reduces diesel consumption and exhaust. That's especially important in California, which has the strictest regs in the nation on transport reefer unit emissions. It is also less expensive to use standby instead of diesel power, he observes.
According to Parilo, Fresh & Easy is also concerned about noise. Overall, the fleet's trailers are designed to reduce audible noise by 66%. The Vector units help hit that target as they are quieter than conventional systems and in standby mode they operate with no sound from the diesel engine.
Another noise-busting spec is the use of roll-up doors instead of liftgates. Parilo adds that drivers are committed as well to a zero-noise policy in their cabs while unloading at stores.