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Asda's price guarantee helps sales rise by 1.6%





Supermarket chain Asda has said the relaunch of its price guarantee helped sales rise 1.6% in the fourth quarter.

The UK's second-biggest grocery chain said the like-for-like sales hike for the three months to the end of January came as 800,000 customers took up its comparison scheme since the start of 2011.

Meanwhile, staff at Asda are to share a record bonus pot of £26.9m for the chain's 2010 performance.

The majority of Asda's 145,000 full-time workforce, covering 386 stores and 19 distribution depots, will be entitled to a bonus of up to £350 on Friday.

However, some 20,000 staff will receive 'superbonus' pay-outs of up to £437 after their stores or depots exceeded performance targets for the year.

The firm's Bangor branch took the accolade for best performing store in Northern Ireland.

Asda has 15 supermarkets and one Asda Living store in Northern Ireland, employs over 4,000 people and recently announced plans to invest a further £100m in its Northern Ireland store network.

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The firm spent over £70m last year in sourcing products from Northern Ireland suppliers and has invested £230m in food and drink products since moving into Northern Ireland in 2005

The performance contributed towards a 14% leap in full-year profits at US parent Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart reported net income of $16.4bn (£10.1bn), helped by a 27% surge in the fourth quarter.

Asda's sales performance follows a "good Christmas" for the group as it bounced back after six months of declining sales.

It improved its Asda Price Guarantee at the turn of the year, pledging to sell groceries at least 10% cheaper than all of its major rivals, and has expanded product ranges.

Asda's performance compares well with its "big four" competitors over the Christmas season, with rival Tesco reporting a sales rise of 0.6% including VAT in its six-week festive period. Sales including VAT rose 2.6%, it added.

Asda said it had added nearly 3,000 products to its own-label range and plans to introduce another 2,000 in the coming weeks.

It also announced a new premium homeware brand today called Elegant Living.