Like-for-like (LFL) sales at the UK’s second largest grocer Asda increased by 0.1 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2011, according to a statement released by US parent company Walmart this afternoon.
Operating income for the period was down on last year, with the retailer attributing this to the charges associated with the closure of Asda’s defined benefit pension plan and acquisition costs connected to the recent Netto takeover.
Asda’s Q1 excludes the Easter and royal wedding bank holiday, which was said to be a particularly strong trading period for the company.
Retailers have found it difficult to provide fair year-on-year sales comparisons in recent months due to the earlier Easter in 2010 and extra bank holidays in 2011. Asda said today that adjusted LFL year-on-year sales grew by 0.8 per cent excluding VAT when the benefit of Easter from the comparable period last year is removed.
During a conference call today, Walmart International President & CEO Doug McMillon praised Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke for “a solid start to the year” and sales growth in Q1.
“Our team in the UK completed its purchase of the 147 Netto stores from Dansk Supermarked in April 2011, which falls in our second fiscal quarter,” he added.
“We expect to complete the in-store conversions this year, investing more than £100 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs.
“Two of our leaders in the UK, Asda Chief Financial Officer Judith McKenna and Asda Operations Director Supermarkets Karen Hubbard, have done a great job getting us to this point and we look forward to seeing the results of our conversions and integration.”
Wakefield, Worksop, Stainforth were the first three former Netto stores to open with Asda branding earlier this year, as part of a business plan to add 168 new stores to the company’s property portfolio in 2011.