Future of George standalone stores in doubt
Asda chief executive Andy Bond has vowed to launch the retailer's entire general merchandise offer online within the next three years, but admitted that he may be forced to axe George's standalone high street stores.

Bond told Retail Week: 'In two to three years, we will have our whole general merchandise offer online. A lot of our core categories are not online, [such as] our whole homewares and George offers.'

Asda launched furniture and electricals online earlier this year. Its online food shopping service will be available across the UK by the end of the year.

While its online business powers ahead, Bond admitted that he was considering closing down the George high street operation. 'All scenarios are open. It is certainly not successful enough to expand. So we have two alternative routes forward: continue to manage and improve [the stores] or close them. Both are possibilities,' he said.

Bond added: 'The operating model is so different to out-of-town retailing and we have learned a lot about the costs of logistics and labour and the management of the offer.'

When asked if all of the 12 George stores were trading below expectations, Bond replied: 'It is a mixture.'

Bond also explained the extent to which Asda would like to see the Competition Commission's enquiry open up competition in the grocery sector. 'If you are in a town where you have an Asda [or another large supermarket] and a new piece of land comes up, we should be excluded from bidding for it and someone else should be allowed to bid for it, because it engages further competition,' he said.

Separately, Bond declined to comment on whether Asda was considering a bid for Sainsbury's.