Asda turnaround a factor
Wal-Mart unveiled record sales and earnings during its fourth quarter, when supermarket chain Asda exceeded company expectations as it benefited from a turnaround drive.

Total sales rose 10.9 per cent to US$98.09 billion (£50.13 billion) in the fourth quarter to January 31, compared with 2006. Net sales for the year increased 11.7 per cent to US$344.99 billion (£176.32 billion).

Fourth-quarter income from continuing operations rose 8.8 per cent to US$3.94 billion (£2.01 billion). For the year, income rose 6.7 per cent to US$12.18 billion (£6.23 billion).

Wal-Mart president and chief executive Lee Scott said: 'We are extremely pleased to close fiscal year 2007 with record sales and earnings. Even if you take into account the discontinued operations, we still had record results.'

The world's biggest retailer attributed Asda's improvement to the restoration of consumer confidence because of better pricing, service and stock. Wal-Mart international vice chairman Mike Duke said Asda now has 1 million more customers than a year ago.

Asda also extended its organic offering and relaunched its premium ranges during the year, including an upmarket clothing range called Collections by George. In addition, Wal-Mart said it was 'encouraged' by the results from Asda's non-food format, Asda Living.