Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa was told his answers were damaging to the brand during a parliamentary hearing over the retailer’s fuel pricing and employment practices. 

Mohsin Issa, co-owner of Asda

Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa was questioned by the Business and Trade Select Committee

During the evidence hearing, which lasted for an hour, Issa refused to explain the supermarket chain’s pricing strategy and would not answer multiple questions on whether Asda had increased its profit margins on fuel since its takeover in 2021. 

Darren Jones, chair of the House of Commons Business and Trade Select Committee, told Issa: “This has been quite an extraordinary session… you’ve not answered any of our questions.

“I’m just very sorry that we’ve spent an hour going round in circles and you’ve not been complying with the questions from this committee.

”It’s not in order and I think actually you’ve suffered to the detriment for the brand of Asda to your customers and your suppliers.”

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a report indicating that drivers were paying more for petrol and diesel than before the Covid pandemic due to weakened competition.

The CMA also stated there had been a significant change in Asda’s pricing approach after its takeover by the Issa brothers and their private equity partner TDR Capital in 2021.

During the hearing, the competition regulator reported that Asda’s profit margins on fuel have tripled since pre-pandemic times.

Responding, Issa said Asda was “proud of being a price leader” and insisted the group had not changed its strategy.

He did not directly confirm if the new management had increased profit margins on fuel, instead saying the margin was invested into food and that its overall profit margins had fallen from 2.7% to 1.7% under his ownership. 

Asda’s chief people officer Hayley Tatum was also grilled by MPs over supposed “fire and rehire” tactics being used by the business. 

Tatum said “dismiss and reengage” – which sees an employee told they will be let go if they don’t agree to potentially less favourable contract terms – was only a last resort. 

However, in May this year, the GMB union claimed 7,000 workers on Asda’s night shift had been threatened with the measure over the removal of their premium payment, bringing the shift in line with the rest of the business. 

“We don’t know whether we would end up in a fire and rehire position,” Tatum said when asked to explain why ‘dismiss and reengage’ was an option amid continuing negotiations.

Jones said he retained the right to recall both Issa and Tatum to give further evidence.