Asda enjoyed a surprise boost in sales over the Christmas period, pushing ahead of its Big 4 rivals and marking a sharp divergence from its recent poor performance.
The grocer’s sales are thought to have grown by 5.3 per cent throughout December, making it the best performing supermarket over the festive period.
Its new boss Roger Burnley – who had been promoted from chief operating officer to lead Asda’s turnaround effort – said that the retailer was the only one to not lose any of its market share to discounters Aldi and Lidl.
“In December we were the only one of the ‘Big 4’ 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,” Burnley said in a message to colleagues, seen by The Sunday Telegraph.
“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 positive results will come as a relief to the US retail giant Walmart, which owns Asda.
In 2016 it was the worst performing grocer, seeing sales drop 2.9 per cent in the last three months of the year. This followed a torrid few years at the grocer, which has struggled to compete since the discounters came to prominence.
Burnley, who started at the beginning of this month, is expected to lay out his comprehensive turnaround strategy at a company-wide meeting next month.
The news comes as grocers continue to benefit from rising inflation as shoppers’ prioritise spending on food.
This has led to a growing disparity between food and non-food sales, with many large fashion retailers struggling to stay afloat.