UK supermarket Asda’s like-for-like sales rise 9.6%

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket group Asda reported stronger like-for-like sales in the second quarter, driven by higher demand for cheaper alternatives to branded grocery products amid a cost-of-living crisis, it said on Tuesday.

Excluding fuel, like-for-like sales jumped 9.6% in the three months ended June 30, while revenue reached 5.4 billion pounds ($6.87 billion), Asda said.

Asda, Britain’s No. 3 grocer after market leader Tesco and Sainsbury’s has cut prices on some products, particularly on own label items, and last year it launched “Just Essentials”, a value range targeting those on tight budgets.

Sales from “Just Essentials” surged 87% in the second quarter while own-brand sales recorded a 14.7% increase.

Asda, owned by brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and private equity firm TDR Capital, is still facing inflation in parts of its cost base, but has passed on savings from lower commodity prices in items such as milk and wheat to shoppers, Chief Financial Officer Michael Gleeson said in a statement.

Many British households remain constrained by tight budgets amid a surge in living costs that began last year, when inflation touched 40-year highs driven initially by soaring energy prices.

Price rises have since eased but at an annual rate still above 7%, they remain high by historical standards and the highest among the world’s top seven rich economies.

Asda said more than 5 million customers were now regularly using its Asda Rewards loyalty app.

It also added that a 2.3 billion pound deal to buy the bulk of petrol station operator EG Group’s UK and Ireland business was on track to close in the fourth quarter.

($1 = 0.7857 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James)