Asda sales up as it creates 7,500 UK jobs

ASDA, owned by Wal-Mart, yesterday reported a return to underlying sales growth in its fiscal third quarter, helped by a focus on low prices and the relaunch of its core own-brand grocery range.

The country’s second-biggest supermarket chain behind Tesco also said yesterday it would create more than 7,500 jobs next year by opening new stores, growing in home shopping, and through its purchase of Netto UK.

Sales at stores open over a year rose 1.3 per cent in the three months to 30 September. That compared with a 0.4 per cent fall in the second quarter and is the first increase since the fourth quarter of 2009.

Asda has lagged behind its major rivals in sales growth for most of this year, hit by a step up in promotions which the chain says has clouded its low-price message.A growing demand for premium ranges which has favoured upmarket rivals like Waitrose has also taken its toll. Asda responded in April by launching a price guarantee offering to refund shoppers the difference if they can find their shopping cheaper elsewhere.

International sales, which include the UK, outstripped Walmart’s domestic business during the quarter, rising 9.3 per cent to $26.9bn against the period a year ago, boosted by a foreign exchange gain of $349m. The retailer’s overall sales increased 2.6 per cent to $101.2bn. Earnings rose nine per cent to $3.44bn against a year ago.