Asda has romped home with another quarter of like-for-like sales growth significantly ahead of the competition. Wal-Mart does not provide a breakdown of sales or profits at its subsidiaries, but said Asda's comparable store growth, including petrol, was in the "low double digits". In a conference call, Wal-Mart executives said sales and operating profits in the UK were "ahead of plan" driven by new customers, higher basket spend and robust performances from homewares, electricals and entertainment. Sales from pharmacies, optical centres and jewellery departments soared by more than 100% year-on-year, while like-for-like sales for George rose 30%, boosted by the successful launch of US teen range Mary-Kate and Ashley. The extended offer of higher margin non-food lines also meant profit growth exceeded sales growth at Asda. "Emerging productivity benefits" that followed the introduction of Wal-Mart systems to Asda are also filtering through to the bottom line. Asda plans to build or rebuild another nine stores this year to add to new stores at Cramlington and Southport. A further eight stores will be extended, six into supercentres, giving Asda 13 supercentres by Christmas. The largest new store will be Eastlands, Manchester, at a total area of 130,000 sq ft. The smallest, at 17,000 sq ft, will open at Walthamstow in July with a strong hot food offer. {{NEWS }}

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