Pre-tax profits at Asda fell by almost 14% last year, as the supermarket cut prices, faced increased payments to parent company Walmart and costs relating to stock options.

In a busy week for supermarket results, documents filed at Companies House revealed pre-tax profits slid 13.8% from £571.1m in 2009 to £491.8m last year.

Sales rose 3.5% to £20.5bn, up 0.6% on a like-for-like basis excluding fuel.

“2010 was a successful year for Asda,” the directors wrote in the accounts. “We continued to improve many aspects of the customer offer, including price, product quality and service.

“At the same time, operating profits – excluding technical assistance, services, royalties and share options costs – grew at a faster rate than sales [by 11.5% to £637.2m].”

Asda's performance trumps that of arch rival Tesco, which reported flat sales [0%] excluding fuel and VAT in the year to 26 February 2011. Sainsbury's reported like-for-like growth of 2.3% excluding fuel but including VAT in the year to 19 March 2011.

This week Tesco reported a 0.5% slump in UK like-for-like sales for the 26 weeks to 27 August, excluding petrol and VAT. Sainsbury’s reported a 1.9% increase in first half like-for-like sales, excluding fuel but including VAT.

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Tesco suffers worst first half in 20 years (5 October 2011)
Sainsbury's leans on Local presence for second-quarter growth (5 October 2011)