Supermarket chain Asda, the British arm of US retailer Wal-Mart, reported a third straight fall in quarterly underlying sales.
The Leeds-based company’s performance was affected by an industry price war and record food deflation.
Asda, which trails UK market leader Tesco by annual revenue, said sales at stores open over a year fell 3.9 per cent on a year ago in the 15 weeks to April 19, its fiscal first quarter.
That compares to a fall of 2.6 per cent in its previous quarter.
Speaking at an event in London, Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke reiterated his commitment to the company’s five year strategy to “redefine value retailing in a challenging market”.
He stated that while there were signs of ‘real and sustainable economic recovery’ 2015 was proving to be the most challenging year yet for traditional supermarkets.
Mr Clarke commented: “This last quarter has been unprecedented. We have seen deflation in the market and exponential shifts in the industry. Although I still believe that 18 months ago we did a great job of predicting changes, we could not have foreseen what’s happened to others and the moves they have had to make in order to restore their business – creating an impact on us in the short-term.
“While I take no pride in reporting a negative number, we are in a period of expected turbulence, not distress. We won’t buy short term sales at the expense of long term profitability. Throughout this period of change in our sector, Asda has been first to market with its response.
“Fundamentally, Asda remains a balanced, healthy sustainable business with a clear direction allowing us to hold our nerve and remain focussed on delivering for our customers.”