Asda suffers profits slump
UK chain Asda has laid bare a disastrous 2016 in which sales and profits collapsed as the firm came out worse for wear in Britain's supermarket wars as discounters Aldi and Lidl have gobbled up market share.
The Walmart-owned firm saw sales drop 3.2pc to £21.7bn in the year to December 31, while pre-tax profits crashed almost 19pc to £791.7m. Like-for-like sales also plummeted by 5.7pc, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
The figures crystallise a torrid time for the grocery giant, which has reported 11 consecutive quarters of sales declines.
"The grocery market has continued to experience low growth throughout the year and competition in the sector has remained intense. Our sales performance, relative to the market, was behind our expectations," the company said.
However, Asda added that despite the disappointing results, there are signs that turnaround efforts under new boss Sean Clarke are beginning to bear fruit. The group pointed to the final quarter of 2016, when it said improvements in ranges and price cuts were paying off.
Mr Clarke, who took up the reins last summer after being parachuted in to replace previous boss Andy Clarke, has slashed the prices of everyday items as he attempts to arrest falling sales.
The chain reported a 2.8pc fall in like-for-likes sales in its first quarter of this year, a moderate improvement on the previous period, which saw sales fall 2.9pc. Last August it posted its worst ever quarterly sales fall of 7.5pc. Asda's share of the market fell 0.9pc to 15.7pc last year, according to Kantar.