Wal-Mart’s U.K. Asda Chain Boosts Sales Growth Amid Lower Prices

Asda, the U.K. supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), said sales growth improved in the first quarter as it cut prices and sold more products online.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.3 percent from a year earlier, excluding fuel and value-added tax, the Leeds, England-based retailer said today in an e-mailed statement. Same-store revenue gained 0.1 percent in the previous quarter.

“This represents a strong performance in what remains a very tough market,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Clarke said in the statement. “Low prices are who we are and are what drive real loyalty. We are unwavering in this commitment.”

The U.K.’s second-largest grocer is maintaining its share of the market amid growing competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl and more upscale competitors such as Waitrose or J Sainsbury Plc. (SBRY) Sainsbury was the only one of Britain’s four biggest grocers to win market share in the 12 weeks ended April 14, according to data from researcher Kantar Worldpanel. Asda’s share eased to 17.5 percent from 17.6 percent a year earlier.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, today forecast second-quarter profit that was less than analysts estimated as shoppers struggle amid the slow U.S. economy and higher taxes.

Earnings per share will be $1.22 to $1.27, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said today. Analysts had projected $1.29, the average of 24 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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