Asda is planning to hire 1,800 staff in order to expand its online operations.

Andy Bond, president of Asda, said that the retailer's online business would be rolled out across the UK by October 2007. It will offer food, health and beauty, bedding, lighting, domestic and electrical appliances.

The service, Bond said, would be expanded at a rate of seven stores a month, with each store employing an extra 30 staff to pick and deliver goods. A minimum of £10m would be spent on new delivery trucks.

However, he admitted that Asda had been slow to realise the potential of the internet: “We were slow to understand how big a market and how big a customer demand there was for dotcom,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

However, he added that its non-food standalone format Asda Living was “a much bigger commercial opportunity that non-food dotcom right now”.