Asda has announced plans to pump £3.9m into expanding its speciality divisions this year, after posting another industry-beating set of second quarter sales.

The cash will go into jewellery, optical services and photo processing, taking Asda’s tally by the year-end to 66 optical centres, 75 photo centres and 160 jewellery departments.

The news came as Wal-Mart revealed Asda’s second quarter like-for-like sales were in the “high single digits [including petrol],” boosted by increased basket size and higher footfall. Total sales growth was in the low double digits.

As Asda CEO Tony DeNunzio told The Grocer last month, growth is not only coming from non-food (The Grocer, August 2, p4). Although general merchandise like-for-like sales were in the high teens, food like-for-likes were in the “high single digits” - significantly ahead of the competition.

And sales growth had not been achieved at the expense of profits, said the company in a conference call. “Asda exceeded its profit plan for the quarter and year to date.”

Wal-Mart’s US sales however, were “below plan,” and more emphasis was being put on availability and staffing, said president Lee Scott.

International sales were ahead of expectations, up 18.8%, driven by strong performances from Asda in the UK, and in Mexico and Brazil.

However, Wal-Mart Germany remained in the red after six years in the market.

Group sales were up 11.3% to $62.6bn in the quarter to July 31.

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