James Moore: Asda proving the big winner of the supermarket price war

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The Independent Online

Outlook With all eyes focussed on the invasion of the European discounters Aldi and Lidl, and the impact of their rise on the likes of Tesco and Morrison's, Asda is remarkably quick to protect itself from getting caught by the squall.

Its foresight is paying off. The UK branch of the Wal-Mart "family" is fast emerging as the big winner of the supermarket price war while the aforementioned Tesco and Morrison's, playing the role of price-cutting Johnny-come-latelys, continue to lose ground.

Even the Sainsbury star is starting to wane by comparison, although it remains in a better place than its two UK-owned rivals.

Asda looks set to press home its advantage. Being seen as a bit downmarket isn't something that overly bothers the British shopper any more, as the success of Aldi and Lidl demonstrates.

Set your prices low enough and they'll even forgive crowded and unpleasant stores.

Asda is still a long way behind Tesco in terms of market share, but its parent has deep pockets and a business model tailor-made for the times.

Meanwhile the latter is run by a chief executive who is having to placate restive investors, reluctant to accept fewer eggs from their golden goose, while fighting brush fires across the globe.

And Morrison's? Well it finally has an online operation, thanks to a tie-up with Ocado. And Ocado is doing very nicely out of it, thank you very much.

No wonder Asda's bosses are laughing. In the short term they look set to consolidate the chain's grip on its position as the number two supermarket. Further out, well its parent has never been short of ambition.