Asda claims vic­tory in ‘Big Four’ sales bat­tle

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Ash­ley Armstrong

ASDA’S new boss has claimed that the strug­gling gro­cer mounted an un­likely resur­gence over the fes­tive pe­riod, lur­ing shoppers away from its big­gest ri­vals and rack­ing up the best sales of the Big Four su­per­mar­kets.

Roger Burnley, who took the helm at the start of this year, has told col­leagues that the gro­cer beat its tar­gets “by some way” in De­cem­ber.

The mini-re­vival is a sig­nif­i­cant step in Asda’s long-term at­tempts to re­gain ground lost in re­cent years. The Wal­mart-owned gro­cer has been the worst per­former for years af­ter los­ing its com­pet­i­tive edge to ri­vals fol­low­ing a bru­tal price war. The chain fin­ished bot­tom of the pile last Christ­mas when it reg­is­tered a 2.9pc sales fall in the fi­nal three months of 2016.

“In De­cem­ber we were the only one of the ‘Big Four’ to hold our mar­ket share year-on-year de­spite the con­sid­er­able num­ber of new stores that the dis­coun­ters have opened in the year, and we re­duced con­sid­er­ably our losses to the dis­coun­ters,” Mr Burnley proudly said in a mes­sage to col­leagues, seen by The Sun­day Tele­graph.

Mr Burnley, who joined Asda from Sains­bury’s, said “We’re still get­ting back on our feet, so I ex­pect us to beat last year – but we have mo­men­tum and a great plat­form for our am­bi­tious plans.”

The Asda boss said that the su­per­mar­ket had en­joyed the best like-for­like sales growth across the mar­ket and “most pleas­ingly, we gained cus­tomers from all three of the other su­per­mar­kets”. Mr Burnley re­vealed to col­leagues that he would be set­ting out his strat­egy to ac­cel­er­ate Asda’s turn­around at a com­pany-wide meet­ing next month.

The Gro­cer has re­vealed fig­ures that sug­gest that Asda grew sales by 5.3pc over De­cem­ber, higher than Mor­risons, Tesco or Asda.

Food re­tail­ers have out­per­formed the high street as ris­ing in­fla­tion prompted cus­tomers to pri­ori­tise spend­ing on food and fuel. Bri­tish house­holds spent a record av­er­age of £1,054 on gro­ceries dur­ing the last three months of the year, an ex­tra £1bn on Christ­mas food in to­tal.

Of the listed su­per­mar­kets, Mor­risons was last week crowned the Christ­mas win­ner, while Tesco failed to meet tar­gets. Bri­tain’s big­gest re­tailer blamed the dis­ap­point­ing fig­ures on the col­lapse of whole­saler Palmer & Har­vey that took the shine off record food sales. Sains­bury’ strong food sales were let down by weak­ness at Ar­gos.

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