SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ( — Fresh & Easy supermarkets have been popping up in Southern California for the past five years, but their days may be numbered.

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The British company Tesco, which owns the chain, has announced the stores are not providing an acceptable profit and the company is exploring its options, including a possible sale.

The first Fresh & Easy store opened in Hemet in 2007.

“As they were rolling out their stores, they rolled out in a period of time economically that was really unfavorable to anybody in the business,” said supermarket expert Robert Hermanns, of USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Hermanns said he wasn’t impressed by the Fresh & Easy business model.

“Observers of the industry, like myself, went into their stores and said, ‘Gee, I don’t get it: I don’t get the décor, I don’t get the packaging, I don’t get the item assortment,'” he said.

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CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Randy Paige spoke with shopper Pat Hunziker at a Fresh & Easy store in Burbank. She said she liked the store but doesn’t shop there often because they don’t have a checker to handle your groceries.

Shopper Phillip Aproux, who is French, said he liked the store’s European feel: no frills and good prices.

“So, are you disappointed?” Paige asked Aproux about the chain’s possible demise.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed, but I don’t think people really understand the Fresh & Easy system. People like choices. When you go to Fresh & Easy, you get one type of thing and that’s it, but the price is right,” Aproux said.

Fresh & Easy executives did not want to give an on-camera interview, but provided a written statement which said, in part, “Our focus remains on our people and our customers.”

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It’s a focus that can continue only as long as the doors remain open.