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Asda sales see record slide

Asda has become the latest victim of the UK supermarket price war and rise of the discounters, posting its worst ever quarterly sales fall.

The retailer, which is part of the US-based Walmart Group, reported a 4.7% fall in sales at stores open for at least a year during the three-month period to 30 June 2015. The decline follows a first quarter dip of 3.9%, which at the time represented Asda’s worst sales figures since the 1990s.

Andy Clarke, the only chief executive among the UK’s four largest supermarkets not to leave his job in the last 18 months, insisted that this latest decline marked a “nadir” for the company, maintaining: “we have positive green shoots as we move through the third quarter and the balance of the year.”

Asda has invested heavily in fighting off the rising threat from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, which have been stealing market share from the UK’s biggest grocers and expanding their foothold across the country. At the end of 2013, Asda set out a plan to spend £1 billion on cutting prices over the next five years.

“When we set the plan, I don’t think anyone anticipated the market being in meltdown,” commented Clarke. “We continue to navigate a steady course through the worst storm in retail history.”

As part of the drive to turn around sales, this May saw Asda unveil a major makeover of its wine range following a “complete review” designed to offer customers “more choice and inspiration”.

The overhaul included the introduction of a new in-house brand called Wine Atlas, a 17-strong collection priced between £4.97 and £7, designed to encourage Asda shoppers to explore lesser known regions for an accessible price.

Looking ahead, Clarke admitted that the retailer needed to speed up improvements to its online services, a major growth area for beer, wine and spirits in particular. He confirmed that Asda would continue to invest in price cuts in a bid to stay ahead of its direct rivals and close the gap with discounters.


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