Asda expects to net £2m of cost savings this year by cutting absentee levels when it rolls out in-store occupational health clinics.

The grocer has set up one-day clinics in shops, which are staffed by regional occupational health nurses and held about once a month. The initiative was tested last year in four regions and helped reduce absentee levels.

Asda colleague relations manager Stuart Price said: “We trialled the clinics in our worst areas, where absence levels were at about 5 per cent. Within six months this had reduced to 3.8 per cent.”

Price said the service allows staff to deal with health problems in stores. “By making simple adjustments, sometimes people can come back to work quicker and it’s helping the colleague at the same time,” he said.

Price said the scheme will cost about£1.5m to implement but will generate£2m of savings in sick pay alone. “Staff like to talk to someone independent of their employer and, where you have around seven minutes on average with your GP, each session in our health clinic is 45 minutes,” he said. “The£2m of savings does not include all the hidden costs around absenteeism such as changing shifts around.”

Separately, Asda has relaunched its famous pocket-tap advertising, which first aired more than 30 years ago. The new ad was scheduled to make its TV debut last night.

Asda has also hired Fiona Mannion as commercial support director. She joins on Monday from AS Watson, where she was global director of category development. The merchandising, brand, supplier and buyer development, and goods-not-for-resale central buying teams will report to Mannion, who sits in chief merchandising officer Darren Blackhurst’s trading team. Headhunter Flint Hyde placed Mannion in the Asda role.