Asda reported a fall in like-for-like sales today following the later timing of Easter, amid growing City speculation over a possible floatation for the Walmart-owned grocery giant.
Like-for-like sales at the group tumbled 1.1 per cent as a result of the holiday shift in the three months to the end of March, Walmart said today, but climbed 0.5 per cent when adjusted for the calendar comparisons.
It reported double-digit growth online at both Asda.com and its clothing line George.com.
Brett Biggs, Walmart’s finance chief, said: "Against a challenging backdrop in the UK, Asda comp sales declined with the Easter flip, but transactions were positive as customer experience continued to improve."
Earlier this week the firm’s parent owner Walmart said it was considering a stock market listing for Asda, just weeks after the supermarket’s failed attempt to merge with rival Sainsbury’s.
Walmart International boss Judith McKenna said the US chain is considering an initial public offering (IPO) for its UK subsidiary, but said it was “not rushing into anything”.
Speaking to Asda managers in Leeds, she added that any preparations for a float would "take years".
The comments come weeks after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked a proposed £12bn merger between Asda and Sainsbury’s.