A battle royal involving two of the world’s largest retailers is about to unfold right here in the East Valley.
Wal-Mart Stores is planning to unveil a new store concept starting with four East Valley locations that will compete for customers with the new Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain, according to a report by the Financial Times newspaper.
Fresh & Easy is owned by Tesco, the United Kingdom’s largest retailer.
According to the newspaper, the stores, called Marketside, will be about 20,000 square feet each and located at 7561 E. Baseline Road, Mesa; 910 E. Elliot Road, Gilbert; 950 N. McQueen Road, Chandler; and 838 W. Elliot Road, Tempe.
Those stores would be significantly smaller than Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market grocery stores and more comparable in scale to the Fresh & Easy stores.
Wal-Mart would not discuss details of the new stores but issued a written statement saying “we trial and test different ways to serve our customers all the time, and this smaller neighborhood market is an example of that.”
Two of the properties — one at Ray and McQueen roads in Chandler and the other at Baseline and Sossaman roads in Mesa — are owned by two limited liability companies called Phoenix 7 Portfolio and 4337 & Associates in Santa Ana, Calif.
Representatives of the companies did not return phone calls for comment.
The move comes just over a month after Tesco opened its first Fresh & Easy stores across the Valley.
The Financial Times reported that the four buildings leased by Wal-Mart are former drugstores acquired and sold by the CVS pharmacy chain in 2006.
Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott declined to comment on Wal-Mart’s plans, saying his company is focused only on serving customer needs. He said “our reception in Phoenix has been fantastic.”
Officials from Gilbert and Chandler said Wal-Mart has not filed for permits in either city. Mesa and Tempe officials could not be reached for comment.