Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market could soon cover the Valley by opening locations about two miles apart, providing roughly one store for every 20,000 residents, the company said Wednesday.
Adam Mayfield, the company's director of real estate, spoke to retail industry leaders at a conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Later he said that the Valley could easily support 100 stores.
Before Wednesday, the El Segundo, Calif.-based company had publicly announced intentions to eventually operate only 160 locations in Arizona, California and Nevada, including 37 stores in the Valley.
Since unveiling the first Arizona stores in December 2007, the company has opened 19 locations in the Valley.
Mayfield said that the chain's four-month-long rollout in the Southwest has proceeded smoothly despite the downturn in the economy.
"The reaction we've had from customers has been fantastic," he said. "We are aggressively expanding despite the economic trends in the market at the moment, and that's going to continue."
He added that it has become easier to find store locations and secure commitments from developers now that the public is more familiar with the Fresh & Easy brand.
"I think we're going to be a household name here before you know it," he said.
Brendan Wonnacott, Fresh & Easy spokesman, would not reveal the locations of the additional stores.
"We only announce the specific locations when they're far enough in (the) process where we can be fairly certain that they'll open," he said.
Fresh & Easy is owned by the United Kingdom-based Tesco grocery company. The company is attempting to carve out its own niche within the crowded Valley grocery store industry by focusing on selling fresh, natural foods, ready-to-eat meals and daily necessities.
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has already surpassed AJ's Fine Foods, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets and Trader Joe's in the number of locations in the Valley.