Sales growth at Asda slows down

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of Asda has mounted a vigorous defence of its performance and strategy after the supermarket chain revealed that sales growth had slowed in the second quarter.

Andy Clarke said the company had continued to increase sales by volume but its top-line revenue had been hit by it "holding down the price" of core groceries, such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables.

"Volume growth is not something being seen by many [rivals]. The long game is winning customers and serving more of them every week. Our strategy is working," Mr Clarke said.

He added that Asda's own price inflation was about a quarter of the grocery sector's 3.9 per cent.

In what Mr Clarke described as a "tough" market, Asda posted a 0.7 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the 12 weeks to 5 July, down from the 1.3 per cent jump in the first quarter. This performance put the grocer, which is owned by the US giant Wal-Mart, a smidgeon behind Sainsbury's, which saw recent growth of 0.8 per cent. It was ahead of Morrisons and Tesco UK's latest falling sales.

Asda grew its operating profit by 7.5 per cent in the quarter but did not disclose a figure.

None of the big four have yet reported figures covering the July heatwave, which saw a surge in sales of food led by strawberries, barbecue meat, beer and sparkling wine.