Asda’s Christmas sales down £100m

STRUGGLING supermarket group Asda saw its sales fall by more than £100m in the crucial Christmas period.

The drop was despite consumers spending an extra half a billion pounds in the 12 weeks to January 1, 2017, which was the fastest recorded growth since June 2014.

The data from analysts Kantar Worldpanel showed Asda took £4.32bn in the period – down 2.4% on a year earlier. It was comfortably the worst performance from any of the large chains, with only Sainsbury’s also showing a fall, albeit of 0.1%.

However for the Leeds-headquartered retailer the fall was still “a considerable improvement”, said Kantar, on its December figure of -4.7%.

Asda has had a tough couple of years, as it concentrated on maintaining margin over sales. Since March 2015 its market share has dropped from 17.3% to 15.5% now, while in the same period Aldi and Lidl combined have grown 1.9 percentage points to 10.4%.

The pressure eventually resulted in Asda’s chief executive Andy Clarke being replaced in June by the head of Walmart China, Sean Clarke.

Like its rivals, Asda been trying to get to grips with the changing nature of shoppers’ behaviour by adapting its business model.

Mr Clarke launched Project Renewal in October 2015, while efforts were made to prioritise its core business.

Plans to scale back its click-and-collect strategy and refurbish about 95 of its largest stores were also announced.

A series of changes were made to the senior management team. Andy Murray moved from Walmart and replaced Barry Williams as chief customer officer while Roger Burnley was recruited from Sainsbury’s as chief operating officer.

Meanhile, around 200 people based at its Asda House headquarters in Leeds left last January shortly after the group began its staff consultation in a restructuring that formed part of its response to falling sales.

Asda market share, 2012-2017