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Weak finish for Asda fails to put a dent in Walmart

Walmart international boss Judith McKenna said last year that the group was “seriously considering” floating Asda

Walmart Inc -

A poor sales performance from Asda, particularly in clothing, could not hold back a strong finish to the year for parent Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT).

The UK subsidiary reported a like-for-like sales decline of 1.3% in the fourth quarter to 31 December.

Walmart said Asda had been hit by “challenging market conditions – particularly in clothing” but hailed a more stable outcome for the supermarket’s core food business.

Asda chief executive officer Roger Burnley said: “We continued to improve our price position versus the previous quarter, and year on year, whilst our trusted combination of great value and quality ranges with a touch of Asda personality resonated strongly with customers.”

He praised the continued double-digit growth at the online shopping business, which was up 10.3% in the fourth quarter.

“During the quarter we rolled out Same Day Delivery to 284 stores and trialled a ‘one hour Click and Collect’ service in two shops. Following positive customer feedback, this service is being extended across the chain from today,” Burnley said.

Wal-Mart reported group revenue growth in the quarter of 2.1%, with the US growing 1.9%, with e-commerce revenues up 35%.

Revenues at the international division, including Asda, were up 2.3% with Walmart praising “strength” in China, India and Mexico.

Asda recently was reported to have begun consultations with more than 2,800 staff over cutbacks, having last year told thousands of staff that if they wanted to keep their jobs they had to sign up to a new contract that would remove long-service benefits, paid tea breaks and allow Bank Holidays off.

After the attempted £14bn merger of Asda with rival Sainsbury’s failed, Walmart international boss Judith McKenna said last year that the group was “seriously considering” a float of the UK business.

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NYSE:WMT
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