Asda is pinning its turnaround hopes on the launch of a major campaign next month that aims to reposition it as a chain that is as famous for fresh foods as it is for price.
The move comes as Wal-Mart revealed that although Asda’s total annual sales had risen in the low single digits, its underlying sales had fallen for the first time in at least ten years. Its previously outlined plan to open between 25 and 30 stores this year was also reiterated.
This contrasted sharply with good news from rival Morrisons this week, after its share price jumped 6.9% when analyst UBS said that it had evidence of improving sales, upgrading its rating from ‘neutral’ to ‘buy’.
An Asda spokesman said that “exciting plans” were afoot to restore it to the outperformance that it was used to. Dubbed ‘Operation Shiver’, the initiative goes beyond an ad campaign, instead representing the biggest overhaul to its fresh food offer in five years and including the launch of a new slogan.
One Asda head office employee said that there was excitement around the company as it waited for the details. “We expect it to be more than just an external campaign. There will be internal, cultural changes as well.”
A source close to Asda confirmed that it was looking to unveil the campaign next month after six months in the making. “This is much more than just new ads. There’s brand new signage and Asda has been looking closely at exactly who its shoppers are,” he said.
The Grocer first revealed that Asda was shaking up fresh food in November in its attempts to thwart Sainsbury’s ambitions of taking back its number two supermarket slot (The Grocer, November 26, p4).
Asda president Andy Bond admitted that its anticipated slip to third place behind Tesco and Sainsbury could happen this year, citing its inferior fresh food offer as a key contributor.
He is now understood to have briefed store managers with the final details ahead of next month’s launch, where it will also unveil a new slogan. In recent years, Asda has used the slogans ‘Always low prices’, ‘Asda price’ and ‘Pocket the difference’ in its advertising and in stores.
A new slogan is likely to be an attempt to create a single phrase, such as Tesco’s ‘Every little helps’ and Sainsbury’s ‘Try something new today’, which people will automatically associate with Asda, said an insider at the supermarket.
Meanwhile, Asda is the first supermarket to kick off its World Cup activity as it seeks to cash in on the biggest sporting event of the year.
This week it launched its campaign with a new Love The Game promotion offering free World Cup tickets to shoppers who buy Budweiser, Gillette and Duracell products. The promotion is the first in a series of a major activities for Asda leading up to the World Cup.
Rachel Barnes