Asda maintains growth ahead of Sainsbury’s deal

Walmart’s Leeds-based subsidiary Asda — currently preparing to be taken over by Sainsbury’s — on Tuesday reported a slowdown in the rate of underlying sales growth in the quarter to December 31, 2018. 

The UK’s third largest food retailer said its like-for-like sales rose 1% in its fiscal fourth quarter compared with a 2% rise in the previous quarter.

Nonetheless, the results still mark the seventh straight quarter of underlying growth.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is currently probing the Asda-Sainsbury’s deal and is due to publish its preliminary findings this month.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said: “In the U.K., Brexit — and the potential implications of a hard Brexit — is increasingly on the mind of everyone.

“No matter the situation, Asda will always work to keep prices as low as possible for its customers …”

Walmart chief financial officer Brett Biggs added: “In the U.K., Asda’s progress on improving the value proposition, growing online grocery share and expanding private label penetration contributed to its seventh consecutive quarter of positive comps.”

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “2018 was another challenging year for the retail market and the pace of change shows no sign of abating.

“It’s clear that retailers have to be prepared to innovate and challenge their status quo if they want to continue to remain relevant and deliver for their customers who rightly demand great value.

“That is why I’m pleased that our Asda strategy has continued to deliver positive momentum and the right offer for our customers.

“During the fourth quarter our Own Brand continued to grow ahead of the market with even more customers enjoying innovative products within our Extra Special range. 

“I’m immensely proud of our colleagues for their hard work in 2018 to keep the business moving in the right direction and I’m delighted that once again we will be able to reward their hard work by paying all of our colleagues a bonus in spite of the challenging market we face.

“The year ahead looks no less turbulent than the last, with uncertainties around Brexit playing on our customers’ minds.

“Whilst I am pleased with our performance in 2018 we must remain focussed on ensuring the long term sustainable success of Asda for our customers.”