Tesco's US c-store arm Fresh & Easy will soon face direct competition from Wal-Mart and Safeway, with the two major retailers opening similarly-sized stores in the south west

Wal-Mart is to open

new smaller format 'Marketside'-branded stores in Arizona, one of the states Fresh & Easy trades in. The retailer described the new format as "the neighborhood market for busy people with a taste for fresh and delicious food".

On a new website, workformarketside.com, it added that Marketside would "simplify the daily challenge of creating an enjoyable meal by providing inspiring choices, while also offering everyday favorites at great prices in an easy-to-shop environment."

The site currently lists eight job openings for managers and assistant managers in four Arizona cities.

Meanwhile Safeway's southern Californian subsidiary Von's has opened a 15,000 sq ft store in Long Beach, California, called The Market, on a site six miles away from one of Tesco's planned new 10,000 sq ft stores.

The store offers premium products and includes a bakery, butchery, deli and Starbucks. Safeway said the new store was a pilot, as the California-based retailer, which operates more than 1,700 supermarkets in North America, experimented with a small format.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market operates in California, Arizona and Nevada.