Asda lifts sales ahead of takeover by Sainsbury’s

Roger Burnley

Walmart said its Leeds-based subsidiary Asda increased its sales in the first quarter to March 31 as it prepares to be taken over by Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s said last month it agreed to buy Asda for about £7.3 billion in cash and shares to create the UK’s largest supermarket group by market share and overtake Tesco.

For the first quarter, Asda reported like-for-like growth of 3.4%.

Adjusting for Easter, which fell within the first quarter of 2018, like-for-like sales grew 1.0%.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said: “Recently, we took some strategic actions to further position our portfolio for long-term growth.

“We were pleased with the response of our colleagues in the UK following our announcement of the proposed merger of Asda with Sainsbury.

“We believe this proposed combination is good for customers and colleagues as well as shareholders.

“In the UK, we saw sequential improvement in the business as comp sales increased for the fourth consecutive quarter.

“We continue to remain focused on improving the customer experience in our stores and providing value for customers by investing in lower prices.”

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “Our Q1 performance – even when adjusted for increased sales from an early Easter – represents genuine momentum with four consecutive quarters of growth.

“During the first three months of the year, we have continued to invest sensibly where it matters most to our customers with lower prices, innovation in our Own Brand and further improving their shopping experience whether in store or online.

“Through Q1, we again stepped on our commitment to every day low prices with the launch of ‘Rolled Back Staying Back’ which now extends to 667 lines that customers buy the most, launched 216 new Own Brand products including adding 29 to ‘free from’, a range which is increasingly important to our customers.

“We attracted 246,000 new customers to our stores in the quarter and made shopping with us online for groceries, where sales grew 8.3%, even more convenient with the introduction of voice ordering via Google Assistant.

“Whilst we are not complacent, we are positive about our growing momentum and excited by the opportunity that our proposed merger with Sainsbury’s PLC offers to accelerate our successful strategy and go further, faster.”