Asda set for biggest year of growth

SUPERMARKET chain Asda has confirmed plans to open 168 stores this year after the Office of Fair Trading cleared its acquisition of 194 Netto stores.

The increase in store numbers will make 2011 Asda’s largest single year of growth ever.

Asda will spend £100m rebranding 147 of the Netto stores as the company moves into the small supermarket space while a further 47 will be sold on as part of commitments given to the OFT.

The OFT had asked Asda to find buyers for 25 of the 47 before the deal was completed and it was announced yesterday that deals for those locations have been agreed with Morrisons, Iceland Foods and the Haldanes Group.  As a result, the OFT will not refer the deal to buy the stores from Dansk Supermarked group, first announced in May last year, to the Competition Commission.

In addition to converting Netto stores, Asda will open seven new Asda Superstores, four new Asda Livings and ten new Asda Supermarkets as well as expanding existing stores.

Judith McKenna, Asda chief financial officer, said: “The combination of acquiring 147 Netto stores together with our organic growth plans means we will be able to save customers more money than ever before.

“We’ll also create 1,500 jobs as we convert all of the Netto stores into Asda Supermarkets.

“I want to thank my colleagues sincerely both at Netto and Asda for their patience and dedication throughout. Since we announced our intention last May to purchase these stores, it has been a long, drawn out process. I’m confident, based on the plans in place, the integration will be a huge success.”

Asda has signed a deal to buy six stores from Focus DIY which it intends to convert into supermarkets.

Dansk was advised by Yorkshire law firm Walker Morris led by partners Ian Gilbert and Andrew Moody.