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Wal-Mart's experimental Marketside 15,000-square-foot format won kudos from retail stock analyst Maggie Gilliam, who wrote in a note after a visit to three of Wal-Mart's new stores in Phoenix
With 5,000 to 7,000 value-priced products, the Marketside units have been characterized by some observers as a direct response to the 10,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy stores opened in the U.S. by British retailer Tesco since late last year.
Gilliam took issue with the charactization. "Wal-Mart_s management has long recognized that there was business to be had with smaller stores to fill the neighborhood voids not readily reached by Supercenters," she wrote. "We won't hazard a guess about Marketside_s eventual role in Wal-Mart, but we liked the stores."
Whereas Fresh & Easy focuses on efficiency and offers few amenities, with most of the fresh items packaged at a central commissary, Marketside is more inviting with personal service and a Whole Foods-like emphasis on fresh, with most of the produce loose in open bins and some even hand-stacked, Gilliam said.
Marketside sells sushi and has a Peet's coffee bar, along with a large variety of prepared foods.