Bankrupt Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. is headed to an Oct. 15 hearing to approve an affiliate of private equity firm Yucaipa Companies LLC as the lead bidder for the majority of the grocery chain’s assets.

El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington on Sept. 30. The grocery chain operates in California, Nevada and Arizona. Founded in 2006 as a subsidiary of Cheshunt, England-based Tesco plc, Fresh & Easy aims to sell healthy and wholesome foods. The chain expanded quickly – opening 200 stores by 2012 – but was never profitable. The company was hurt by the 2008 economic recession. Currently, Fresh & Easy operates 167 stores. In 2006 and 2007, Tesco invested more than $610 million to build the business.

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