New grocery chain hiring for Modesto store

British-owned grocery chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is hiring for its first Modesto store.

The company announced plans to open 12 Northern California locations early next year, including a Modesto site in Oakmore Plaza at Briggsmore Avenue and Oakdale Road.

The new stores, which include sites in San Francisco, Napa, Vacaville and Pleasanton, will be the first for the chain in Northern California. It has 150 locations in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

The grocery chain, backed by Britain's huge Tesco PLC, sells national brands as well as its house brand that contains no artificial colors, flavors, corn syrup or added trans fats.

Some 275 employees will be hired to work in the new stores, including 20 to 25 positions in Modesto.

Fresh & Easy Communications Director Brendan Wonnacott said the company is hiring for store managers and team leaders. It will begin hiring soon for sales clerks and other customer assistance positions.

Applications are being taken online only at joinus.

Wonnacott said hiring should continue for the next few months. The nonunionized positions start at $10 an hour and include 401(k) plans and comprehensive health benefits. All employees are given the opportunity to work at least 20 hours a week.

The two other Modesto Fresh & Easy locations that were tentatively scouted in April 2009 are still in the works. Wonnacott said the sites, at Sylvan Square at Sylvan Avenue and Coffee Road and another at Crows Landing Road and Whitmore Avenue, should open "down the road," but he could not give a more definite timeline.

The grocery chain's neighborhood market concept includes a large selection of freshly prepared, heat-and-eat foods and has proved popular in its other California locations. A Fresno store debuted in February, and five more have opened since then in the area.

"Basically it's foods like you'd prepare at home," Wonnacott said. "It's easy to take home and make for your family at affordable prices. There is something to be said about the concept of a neighborhood market, a place to get anything and everything you need to run a household right where you live."

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Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or 578-2284.