Grocery and general merchandise giant Asda has posted adjusted like-for-like growth of 0.8% in its first quarter.
The figure excludes VAT and the removal of the Easter benefit from last year’s comparable period. Unadjusted like-for-likes rose 0.1%.
Doug McMillon, chief executive of parent Walmart International, described the performance in the three months to March 31 as “solid”.
The impact of Easter this year and the royal wedding will be covered in the next quarterly update in August but sales were said to have been “strong” during the holidays.
McMillon flagged the completion of the acquisition of 147 stores from Netto, which fell during the second quarter, as an important step. He said: “We expect to complete the in-store conversions this year, investing more than £100 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs.
“Two of our leaders in the UK, Judith McKenna [chief finance officer] and Karen Hubbard [operations director, supermarkets], have done a great job getting us to this point and we look forward to seeing the results of our conversions and integration. In fact, we have already opened our first three converted stores.” The converted shops are in Wakefield, Worksop and Stainforth.
Asda’s operating income declined on the previous year because of costs associated with the closure of its defined benefit pension plan and the Netto deal.
Excluding those charges, Asda’s costs grew slower than sales and operating income was flat year-on-year.
This morning, Asda said it was embarking on a new phase of investment in its food offer following the success of Chosen By You range.