LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The British are going back home.

Just six years after opening stores in Southern California, parent company Tesco announced it will sell off all U.S. locations of its Fresh & Easy supermarket chain.

The announcement will result in the closure of nearly 200 supermarkets across the nation, including 70 locations in the Southland. An official closure schedule has not yet been released.

After posting a write-down of an estimated $1.8 billion, Tesco is hoping to sell the stores as a single unit, but it was unclear if there were any buyers lined up.

“Faced with a choice of investing further or selling up, we have chosen to sell up and to focus future investment in areas where we can deliver greater returns,” CEO Philip Clarke wrote on Tesco’s blog.

Tesco first announced it would close several Southland stores in January 2012 after seeing lower-than-projected growth in sales and customers.

Supporters have started an online petition to keep Fresh & Easy stores in Southern California, but have so far collected only about 1,100 signatures.

Tesco first opened its U.S. headquarters in El Segundo in January 2007.


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