Belfast Telegraph

Asda 'on right track' despite further quarterly sales slump

Asda has posted another fall in quarterly sales, but the supermarket's US owner has insisted that the company is "on the right track".

The chain, owned by Walmart, reported a 2.8% fall in like-for-likes sales in its first quarter.

The figure represents an 11th consecutive quarter of sales declines but marks a slight improvement on the previous period, which saw Asda sales fall 2.9%.

Asda chief executive Sean Clarke said: " We're pleased that the momentum of the fourth quarter has continued into the New Year with a third consecutive quarter of improvement.

"We're delivering more consistently for our customers, particularly in fresh food, service and availability - both in stores and online.

"Participation in our award-winning Own Brand ranges has increased as we focus on increasing its value and quality and make sure we are offering the right ranges for our customers.

"Despite this progress we are in no way complacent and there is still much for us to do."

Mr Clarke, who took up the reins last summer after being parachuted in to replace previous boss Andy Clarke, has slashed the prices of everyday items as he attempts to arrest falling sales.

Last August Asda posted its worst ever sales fall of 7.5%.

In response, it announced in September it was lowering thousands of prices on everyday favourites by an average of 15%, with items such as beef, chicken and sausages all becoming cheaper.

The move, part of a new value campaign dubbed That's Better, has also seen Asda improve the quality of its own-brand ranges.

The turnaround comes as Asda fights back having lost out recently in a brutal price war that has engulfed the sector.

In a trading update, Walmart said it is confident that Asda is "on the right track".

Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said: "We've made some progress in the UK and the team is executing their plan.

"We are navigating our way back to a position of strength in that highly competitive market. When normalising comp sales for the later Easter and Leap Day, we continued to see sequential improvement in the business, including customer traffic and ticket."

Figures out this month from Kantar showed that Asda's market share fell to 15.6% from 16% in the 12 weeks to April 23.

However, Kantar also said that Asda's sales rose 0.8%, its first year-on-year sales increase since October 2014.

All of the so-called Big Four supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, have suffered as German discounters Aldi and Lidl have gobbled up market share.

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