The future of Asda's Essentials format was thrown into doubt this week as the company confirmed the first store in the format was to close just 10 months after opening.

The closure of the 8,000 sq ft Northampton store, which opened last March, received a mixed response from the City. Some analysts predicted the end of Asda Essentials altogether, while others said there was life left in the format.

When Asda launched the format, it dubbed it 'discount plus'. Ninety-five per cent of products on sale were own label, though more branded lines were added later.

"I would think that's it for Asda Essentials," said one analyst. "I'd expect Asda to have a bit of a break and concentrate on superstores and then come up with another small format. They may have to go down the convenience route."

But Clive Black from Shore Capital said it would be wrong to dismiss it as a failed venture. "It's far from the end of the Essentials format. Asda needs more diverse formats as planning permission will be an on-going difficulty," he said.

"The discounting format makes sense to us. In five years we will see a lot more Essentials around the country. Northampton wasn't working for local reasons."

Richard Ratner, analyst at Seymour Pierce, said North-ampton was renowned for being a tough town for retailers to crack.

Asda admitted the location of the store had been an issue, but also said the range had not been right.

The retailer said its chief executive, Andy Bond, remained "open-minded" about the format.

"Essentials is still a trial format and we expected from the outset that some things would work and some things wouldn't," said an Asda spokesman.

The only other Asda Essentials store - in Ponte-fract - remains open but will be reviewed in spring.

All 12 employees at the Northampton Essentials will be redeployed to other Asda stores.