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Fresh & Easy Will Close All Grocery Stores Including Santa Barbara County Locations

Grocery chain with Santa Barbara and Santa Maria-area locations plans to shutter or sell operations within the next several weeks

Fresh & Easy is planning to close all its grocery store locations, including one on Santa Barbara’s Eastside and another in Orcutt.

The struggling grocery chain, which was sold two years ago to Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Companies LLC, announced Wednesday it would start an “organized wind down” of the business by closing or selling all of it.

“Over the last two years, we have been working hard to build a new Fresh & Easy,” the company said in a statement.

“While we made progress on stemming our losses and moving the business closer to break even, unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain financing and the liquidity necessary to continue to fund the business going forward.”

An exact timeframe for closure wasn’t available, but a spokesperson said all stores would be closed over the “next several weeks.”

That means locations that staved off closure when the Fresh & Easy chain was sold in 2013 — stores at 336 N. Milpas St. in Santa Barbara and 4869 S Bradley Road in Orcutt — won’t be spared this time.

Back then, Yucaipa Companies said it aimed to retain most of the 200 neighborhood markets it acquired from British retailer Tesco PLC, which was trying to ditch its unprofitable venture into the U.S. grocery market.

Yucaipa Companies, which was founded in 1986, inherited a grocery chain that plagued Tesco with reported total losses of $1.8 billion over its six-year life.

Several stores closed, including one in Lompoc, but the private investment firm vowed to try to preserve more than 4,000 jobs at chain stores in Arizona, California and Nevada.

With the sale, a location that had been set to go into at 5955 Calle Real in Goleta never came to fruition.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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