Asda 1000th Store Opening, Stevenage Asda Express

Asda has revealed a record £150m investment in a retail pay offer that would make it the highest-paying UK grocery retailer.

The move, announced to coincide with Asda’s new Express store in Stevenage becoming its 1,000th UK store, will see hourly paid store staff get an 8.4% increase, with rates rising to £12.04 from 1 July. Rates for inside the M25 will rise to £13.21.

It follows the 10% increase for hourly paid retail roles last year. Asda said it took the total investment from the Issa brothers and TDR Capital to almost £415m.

Usdaw, the trade union that negotiates with Asda on retail pay in Northern Ireland and in Asda Express stores, has recommended members accept the rates in a ballot that closes on 15 March.

The outcome of the ballot, together with confirmation of the pay rate increase for colleagues who have joined Asda from former EG Group sites, will be confirmed on 18 March.

The ballot comes as elsewhere Asda faces a growing row over staff pay and conditions with the GMB union.

Earlier this week, the GMB revealed a ballot at its Lowestoft store would open on 5 March and close three weeks later, amid complaints over cuts in hours and lack of collective union bargaining.

Lowestoft became the fifth Asda to face industrial action after a walkout at Gosport and strike votes at Wisbech and Brighton’s Hollingbury and Marina stores.

Last month, Asda defended its record in The Grocer by launching a strong denial of “asset-stripping” under TDR and the Issas.

“This record investment will see Asda become the highest-paying grocery retailer in the UK, recognising the hard work of our store colleagues in serving customers every day,” said Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa.

“We want to be a company that people are proud to work for, which is why we are proposing increasing pay for retail and Express colleagues by more than 8% this year. As we celebrate our 1,000th store opening, I want to thank all our colleagues for their commitment and dedication in bringing Asda’s great value fuel and groceries to more communities.”

Usdaw national officer Jayne Allport said: “We are pleased to have negotiated a pay increase to £12.04, which takes the basic hourly rate above the real living wage and meets our demands of at least £12 per hour.

“This offer from the company will now go to a ballot of Usdaw members covered by our agreements in Northern Ireland and Asda Express, Usdaw is recommending that they accept. Retail staff are key workers in our communities, ensuring that the nation is fed. They deserve our respect and one of the best ways of showing that is with decent pay, particularly in a cost of living crisis.”