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Asda CEO Clarke Backs Further Extension of Sunday Opening Hours

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Asda, the U.K. supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said the retailer would support an extension of Sunday opening hours after the 2012 Olympics ends, according to Chief Executive Officer Andy Clarke.

“Giving greater customer accessibility to more shopping hours across the trading week has got to be a benefit for the customer, so I would support it,” Clarke said at a press conference in London today.

Asda, Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc have all taken advantage of the U.K. government’s decision to extend Sunday trading hours beyond the traditional six over the eight weekends straddling the Olympic and Paralympic games. Clarke said it was too early to say if sales have been boosted as a result.

J Sainsbury, the U.K.’s third-largest supermarket chain, doesn’t think customers want the extra hours extended permanently, a spokeswoman for the grocer said Aug. 13. Tesco, the nation’s biggest grocer, said the same day that it is monitoring the response from customers.

Asda today reported same-store sales, excluding petrol and value-added tax, slowed to 0.7 percent in the second quarter ended June 30. That compares with a gain of 2.2 percent in the prior quarter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net.

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

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