Supermarket giant Asda took another hit in the ongoing supermarket price war as it announced a fall in store sales over Christmas.
Asda, which trails UK market leader Tesco, by annual revenue, said sales at stores open over a year, excluding fuel, were down 2.6 per cent on a year ago in the 12 weeks to January 4, its fiscal fourth quarter. That compares to a third quarter decline of 1.6 per cent.
President and CEO of Asda, Andy Clarke, warned that the retail market remained “in one of its most challenging and changeable periods in history.”
He added that the supermarket was focused on delivering its long term plan, including a £600m investment plan in expanding and improving the Asda store estate.
Asda also posted a one per cent fall in like-for-like sales for the year to December 31.
Mr Clarke said: “2014 saw an acceleration in the structural shift in the market and whilst we saw it brewing and put the right plan in place to address it – delivering solid wins for our business and keeping the ship steady in a turbulent market, the pace and scale of change has exceeded all expectations.
“The first year of our plan was very much about building the foundations –a work out to limber us up for what is to come in 2015 – by leading the price agenda in a deflationary market. We have a clear plan for sustainable, profitable growth and creates a proposition that gives customers what they want.
“I’m pleased that we can announce our continued investment in the UK with £600m for new and improved stores in 2015. With such a powerful force like Walmart behind us that fully supports our strategy, we’re in a unique position in a difficult market – a position of great strength.”
The Leeds-based supermarket said it planned 17 new store openings in 2015 including three supermarkets in London and that 62 stores will undergo a major remodel to reflect changing shopper habits.
It also plans to open 36 new petrol stations and over 150 new remote Click and Collect sites.