Asda has seen sales grow - and in some cases double - in areas of the store where it has slashed the number of lines it stocks under the Less is More programme.

The programme, which was introduced by chief merchandising officer Darren Blackhurst in 2007, had resulted in up to 30% of SKUs being removed in the past few months, he said.

Some suppliers had been against the move, he admitted, but had benefited from the sales uplifts in areas where products had been thinned out.

"Our job is to provide the right range for customers," he added. "We should not be supplier and trade led, we should be customer led. Does that create certain tensions? Yes, but it enables us to get lower prices on core essentials and grow local ranges."

The aim of Less is More was to scrap duplicate products and multiple pack sizes of the same product. As well as enabling Asda to reduce inventory, it had boosted sales, he said. In home & leisure, for instance, sales of candles had doubled after the range was reduced by 65%. "Some customers think we've actually got more products because

the shelves look clearer," said Blackhurst.

The cuts had generally been well received but the products scrapped were always under review, he said.

Last month, Asda reversed its decision to scrap I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in response to customer demand. The brand has now rejoined Utterly Butterly down the dairy aisle. The retailer has also removed four of its six Extra Special breads, but decided against scrapping Nimble or Weight Watchers bread after shoppers said they wanted both.