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Asda Plans $1 Billion Investment After 2012 Sales Advance 4.5%

Asda, the U.K. supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said sales rose 4.5 percent last year and it’s investing 700 million pounds ($1 billion) into stores and online operations.

Revenue including petrol advanced to 22.8 billion pounds, the Leeds, England-based retailer said in an e-mailed statement today. Asda will start same-day delivery services for grocery orders and is building 12 new stores.

The U.K’s top food retailers are struggling to defend their market share as the economic slump prompts shoppers to turn to discounters Aldi and Lidl. Asda’s biggest rival, Tesco Plc, earlier this month reported its first drop in annual profit in almost 20 years, and its dominant share has slipped below 30 percent.

Asda reported Feb. 21 that sales growth at stores open at least a year had slowed to 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, a weaker pace than the 1 percent for the full year.

The retailer’s market share slipped to 17.5 percent in the 12 weeks to April 14 from 17.6 percent in the year-earlier period, Kantar Worldpanel figures showed today.

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