Asda claims to have the edge on rivals when it comes to staff loyalty.

As more than 700 staff attended a celebration at Harewood House, Leeds, in recognition of their service, the retailer boasted it had one of the lowest turnover rates in the retail sector.

The 700 had totted up 15,000 years of service between them and some had worked at Asda for more than 40 years. Across the chain as a whole, 3,207 staff had more than 25 years under their belts.

"A lot of things have changed over the past 20 years," said Gordon Neish, who joined Asda in 1990 and is now general store manager at the Aberdeen branch. "We often say that you don't just have a job at Asda, you have a career something that I have certainly witnessed first-hand. I'm proud to now be in a position to be able to help others prosper and reach their full potential, as I was encouraged to do."

Sarah Dickins, people policy director for Asda, praised colleagues' "passion and enthusiasm".

"We have a recruitment strategy that is about hiring for attitude we are looking for people that are gregarious and can strike up a conversation with customers," she said.

"Naturally, when you recruit friendly people, colleagues form long-standing and sometimes life-long friendships."

More than 20% of Asda staff are over 50. Those at the event each got £300 and an extra week's holiday.