// Asda confirms that Walmart has taken almost £3bn worth of dividends ahead of a change of hands with the Issa brothers
// Asda enjoyed a 7.3% jump in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the 3 months to the end of March
// It is still awaiting final approval from the CMA regarding the Issa brother’s £6.6bn takeover
Asda has revealed another lockdown-charged surge in sales over the past quarter as the grocer also confirmed that Walmart has taken almost £3 billion worth of dividends ahead of a change of hands.
The UK’s third largest grocer is still awaiting approval from the CMA to complete its £6.6 billion takeover by the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backers TDR Capital.
The deal, which was first agreed in October, will see current owners – US retail giant Walmart – retain a minority stake.
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On Thursday, Asda filed its statutory results for 2020 which revealed that Walmart withdrew significant dividends during the year.
The dividends include a payment of £1.65 billion in cash during the year, as well as a dividend in specie – a payment satisfied through assets – worth £1.29 billion.
The confirmation came as Asda revealed a 7.3 per cent jump in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the three months to the end of March.
Asda’s outgoing chief executive Roger Burnley said demand was boosted by the closure of non-essential retailers during the third UK-wide lockdown over winter.
The retailer said this helped to drive strong clothing and general merchandise sales, which increased by 31 per cent and 39 per cent respectively.
It hailed “strong demand” for outdoor furniture, BBQs and garden accessories, as customers prepared to host friends and family outside.
Asda said like-for-like food sales grew by 3.9 per cent as the closure of hospitality continued to drive strong grocery sales.
Total digital sales were also up 88 per cent for the quarter after the retailer rapidly grew its capacity for home deliveries during the pandemic.
“We showed huge resilience last year in unprecedented circumstances and carried this momentum through the first quarter with strong like-for-like sales growth in many key categories, especially clothing and general merchandise,” Burnley said.
“Whilst the closure of non-essential retail during the first quarter helped stimulate demand, our constant focus on keeping prices low, providing great quality products and developing in-store partnerships with market leading consumer brands such as B&Q, The Entertainer and Greggs continues to resonate with customers.”
with PA Wires