A strong first quarter for Asda

The supermarket chain's net sales grew 8.6 per cent.

An Asda branch in London. Credit: Getty Images

The British supermarket chain Asda posted a rise in like-for-like sales of 2.2 per cent (excluding acquisitions, VAT and fuel) for the 12-week period ended 31 March 2012.

Like-for-like customer numbers were up by 2.9 per cent, with basket spend up 2.1 per cent.

Asda, a subsidiary of the US retail giant Walmart, improved its total sales by 7.1 per cent (excluding acquisitions, VAT and fuel) during the 12-week period.

Asda added three new stores in Worcester, Tunbridge Wells and Ramsgate in the quarter and ended the first quarter with a total of 544 stores, including 32 supercentres, 310 superstores, 27 living stores and 175 supermarkets.

Andy Clarke, CEO and president of Asda said:

I’m proud of the work our stores, depots and teams at Asda House and George House put in during the quarter, to build on our end-of-year momentum and deliver market-leading growth. Customers really valued our price leadership, the ongoing improvements in quality and our commitment to warm and friendly service.

Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International, said:

The UK had a strong first quarter, growing sales, and growing operating income faster than sales, excluding fuel. In the first quarter of this year, overall sales grew 7.1 per cent and comparable sales increased 5.0 per cent, excluding acquisitions and fuel, driven by core growth in grocery and children's apparel. The comparable sales included a strong first week in January.

McMillon added:

Traffic in the quarter increased by 2.9 per cent, and average ticket also increased by 2.1 per cent. In addition, our online business in the UK maintained its strong performance, with sales growth of 19.2 per cent in the quarter.

Walmart Stores reported net sales of $112.3bn for the first quarter ended 30 April, an increase of 8.6 per cent, compared to $103.4bn for the same period last year.

Consolidated net income increased by 9.7 per cent to $3.89bn (2011: $3.55bn).

Mike Duke, president and CEO of Walmart, said:

We are very pleased that Walmart delivered earnings and comparable sales above guidance for the first quarter. Despite a negative impact from currency, we grew sales and operating profit over last year.