Asda provided an update on its turnaround attempt yesterday, revealing like-for-like sales declined for the tenth quarter in a row with a 2.9% fall in the final three months of its financial year. The Express says that new boss Sean Clarke is boss hopeful despite the drop and that the recovery efforts under are showing signs of beginning to bear fruit. Asda owner Walmart was helped by its ecommerce business in the fourth quarter as it beat expectations for US sales, with a rise of 1.8%, but stiff price competition in the holiday season held back its profitability (The Financial Times). The Lex column argues that all retailers need to strike a balance between online and offline sales and Walmart needs to learn from Amazon’s ambition. “It has the scale and cash to do so,” the paper says.
The growing row over business rates continues to be kept in the spotlight, with The Guardian reporting that the government has rejected suggestions it has underestimated business rate rises by 5-7% in a private letter sent to Conservative MPs, as criticism mounted of its calculations. Neil Craven writes a critical column for The Mail on the “debacle” that reveals a Government reluctant to act on a crisis facing UK firms. He adds the situation does not bode well for Brexit.
Burger King owner Restaurant Brands, which is backed by 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has agreed to acquire Southern fried chicken chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8bn in cash (The Financial Times).