Belfast Telegraph

Late Easter blamed for quarterly sales slump at Asda

By Henry Saker-Clark

Sales declined at Asda in the first three months of the year as the supermarket giant was affected by the late timing of Easter.

Asda, which has 17 stores in Northern Ireland and last month failed in an attempt to merge with rival Sainsbury's, reported a 1.1% decline in total sales for the quarter to March 31.

The results come days after its US owner Walmart said it is "seriously considering" a stock market flotation for Asda, but that any preparations would "take years".

Asda delivered like-for-like sales growth of 0.5% excluding petrol, adjusted for the late timing of Easter. The retailer said it was buoyed by strong online sales as it reported double digit growth on its Asda.com and George.com platforms, while online grocery sales jumped 10%.

It said it invested to keep down prices of own-brand products and 'Rollback' offers on branded products during the period, amid intense competition from discounters in the sector.

The quarterly figures come after Britain's competition watchdog put paid to Sainsbury's audacious £12bn bid to merge with rival Asda last month. The Competition and Markets Authority vetoed the deal, saying it would lead to increased prices in stores, online and at petrol stations across the UK, with shoppers left "worse off" and quality affected. Asda has a market share of 17% in Northern Ireland, in third place behind Sainsbury's and Tesco at number one.

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