Thursday, August 14 12:53:22
Supermarket Asda, the British arm of the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart, posted a 0.5pc rise in second-quarter underlying sales in a tough grocery market seeing its slowest growth in a decade.
Asda, which trails market leader Tesco, by annual sales and is vying with Sainsbury's to be Britain's No. 2 grocer, said on Thursday sales at stores open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, rose 0.5 percent in the 10 weeks to June 30, versus the same period last year.
The outcome is an improvement on its first quarter performance when like-for-like sales rose 0.1 percent.
Britain's major grocers, a group that also includes Morrisons, are under pressure from hard discounters Aldi and Lidl at the bottom end of the market and Waitrose and Marks & Spencer at the top end.
Asda, based in Leeds, northern England, has, however, performed better than Tesco and Morrisons, both of which have issued profit warnings, with the former also parting company with its chief executive.
The overall grocery market grew 0.9 percent in the 12 weeks to July 20, the lowest figure for 10 years, according to data published by Kantar Worldpanel last month.
British consumers are shopping around for the best prices, buying little and often and wasting less and are increasingly opting for convenience stores or online shopping.
Asda was the first of the big four retailers to attempt to counter the threat of the discounters by cutting its own prices. It said in November it would spend 1 billion pounds on lowering prices over the next five years. (Reuters)
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