LONDON – Asda said on Monday it was targeting regaining its status as Britain’s No. 2 supermarket group as it reported a 42% jump in 2021 operating profit and launched a new value range for cash-strapped shoppers.
Leeds, northern England-based Asda is currently Britain’s third largest grocer with a market share of 14.6%, trailing Tesco on 27.7% and Sainsbury’s on 15.5%, according to Kantar data.
Asda has been owned since last year by brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa and private equity company TDR Capital.
“Our ambition is for Asda to regain its position as the UK’s second largest grocery retailer,” said Mohsin Issa.
“We are pleased with the progress made in the six months since we officially took over the business and are confident we can achieve this long-term ambition by providing customers with exceptional value wherever and however they choose to shop with us.”
With Britons facing the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s, the group will introduce its “Just Essentials by Asda” value range from May.
It comprises 300 products, 50% more than the “Smart Price” range it will eventually replace, spanning fresh meat, fish and poultry, bakery, frozen and cupboard staples as well as more than 20 household and toiletry products.
Asda will stock the full range in all 581 food stores, as well as online.
Last month poverty campaigner Jack Monroe criticised British supermarkets for cutting back their budget ranges.
Asda said its total sales, excluding fuel, rose 0.5% to 20.4 billion pounds ($26.7 billion) in 2021.
Operating profit in 2021 rose to 693.1 million pounds from 486.5 million pounds, mainly due to a reduction in COVID-19-related costs.
Fourth quarter like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, were down 2.9% year-on-year, but up 2.6% on a two-year basis.
Asda has been without a CEO since Roger Burnley abruptly left the group in August.
Four months ago new chairman Stuart Rose said appointing one was a priority.
($1 = 0.7641 pounds)