Asda is to close all of its in-store meat and fish counters as part of efforts to increase its focus on the food-for-now market.

The counters will be replaced by hot food stations selling a range of cooked meals from different cuisines, including pizzas, pies, peri-peri chicken, sushi and katsu curries.

Asda said it will start to transform the counters into the new food-for-now proposition from February, and the offer will vary on a store-by-store basis, depending on the demands of individual catchment areas.

Asda food for now

Asda aims to roll out food-for-now at 150 stores by the end of 2020

The shift comes following a successful trial across 13 Asda stores, in which the grocer replaced fish and meat counters with a hot food-to-go proposition and Sushi Daily concessions.

Asda is planning to install the hot meal stations in 35 of its larger supermarkets in the first quarter of 2020 and aims to roll out the proposition to 150 stores by the end of the year.

No jobs will be lost as part of the shift – all staff employed on the fish and meat counters will move across to the food-for-now stations.

The Walmart-owned chain, which is seeking a potential IPO following its failed bid to merge with Sainsbury’s, said the move was designed to help its stores face into “changing customer behaviours, tastes and shopping habits” by introducing new products and improving the overall customer experience.

Asda said it plans to strike partnerships with “well-known brands” in the coming months to accelerate that drive. It is already working with Just Eat in 50 stores to deliver hot food ranges to customers’ homes and has Subway and McDonald’s shop-in-shops in a number of supermarkets.

Senior manager for food-for-now Elizabeth Ruddiman said: “The success of our counters trials last year shows there is a demand for an offer that is better aligned with our customers’ lifestyles. The popularity of our sushi concessions and international cuisine, along with food-for-now options shows there has been a shift in customer behaviour and there is a need to provide a greater choice in our stores.

“The trials were well received by both colleagues and customers in 2019 and will be used to inform our rolling programme of counter innovation from February. We will be trialling a number of exciting options, which will see Asda partner with new and innovative brands as well as popular favourites, to provide a better experience for our customers.

“Asda has a long history of innovation and trials aimed at providing increased customer choice and we want to use this as an opportunity to better meet customers’ needs at a local level.”