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Asda stores nearly run out of stock of HERSHEY’S and REESE’S products as demand soars

Products made by American confectionery giant, The Hershey Company has taken sweet-toothed British shoppers by storm this week, with sales at Asda already outstripping perennial favourites from leading brands. Some buyers have said that they’ll go to incredible lengths to keep Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s® Cookies ‘n Crème to themselves, with one visitor to Asda’s Facebook page saying that she’ll even hide them in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

Hershey’s brand has been an iconic staple in the US for more than 100 years and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have been the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter since 1928. However, both products have recently begun to make an ever-lasting impression on UK consumers. New products, including Hershey’s® Cookies ‘n’ Cream bar, Hershey’s® Kisses Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures have been on sale in all Asda stores for several days and and all stores are seeing record sales for these iconic American products.

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Posted in Press Centre on 02 February 2012
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  • Asda sells over 20,000 pairs of Long Johns in the last four weeks
  • Sales up 140% this week
  • Rise in popularity thanks to celebrity fans incl David Beckham and premiership footballers

*George at Asda’s Long Johns are 60% cheaper than high street alternatives, priced at just £8

Temperatures outside may be freezing, but Long Johns from George at Asda are selling like hot cakes. Over 20,000 pairs have been sold this year already with a sales uplift of over 140% this week as a result of the plummeting temperatures.

Previously a garment found in your grandfather’s wardrobe, Long Johns are now back on trend with celebrity fans helping the resurgence and turning Long Johns into a must-have. David Beckham is known for donning the extra-long undergarments and has even designed his own, as well as premiership footballers who sport them under their kit during sub-zero matches and training sessions.

Research carried out amongst Asda’s social media users reveals 92%* of women are not only encouraging their partner to wear Long Johns but are happy to wear them themselves also. Long Johns are not just being used to keep warm this week; one shopper welcomes the return to put an end to her husband pinching her woolly tights and another claims she finds them just as sexy as boxer shorts!

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Posted in Press Centre on 03 February 2012
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As temperatures continue to plummet to a shivery -10c in some areas and snow fall is forecast, Asda is gearing up to help customers brave the winter weather this weekend revealing that customers seem determined not to be caught out by the cold snap and are filling their baskets with products to stave off the winter chill.

With the weekend forecast barely rising above freezing, Asda launches operation “Deep Freeze” which see’s on average 40 per cent more cold weather essentials arriving into its stores. The supermarket chain predicts that over the weekend sales will soar as temperatures plummet.

  • Winter Woolies – Sales of jumpers, cardigans and other winter wear has be ploughed into stores as sales soar with a 373% increase YOY with more than 20,000 pairs of long johns being sold in the past four weeks;
  • Duvets & Electric Blankets – are both set to see an uplift in sales of over 300% as more customers look forward to hopping into a nice cosy bed.
  • Hot Water Bottles – 60,000 essential toe-warmers have been delivered into stores along with our cosy blankets (snuggies) which are just a snip at £5
  • Flasks – predicted sales of flasks are set to rocket over 100% per cent as customers ensure they are prepared for any wintry tailbacks on the roads.
  • Car Care – De-icer and screenwash have seen some of the biggest increases. Asda have sold more de-icer in the last week than the whole of February 2011, with an additional ½ million units expected to sell over the weekend Ice scraper sales are up 230% YOY; screen wash sales are up 80% YOY
  • Salt – More than 60 per cent more salt has been picked in anticipation of many UK homes suffering from very icy drive ways. In addition Asda have taken the unusual step to send in extra supplies of cat litter as customers often use this as a replacement for any shortages of salt.
  • Tinned Products & Vegetables – soup, chilli and baked beans are already up by 40 per cent. 50% more Stewing meat, mince and vegetables have been sent into stores as more customers search for a little bit of comfort.
  • Cough and cold remedies – ASDA ploughed an extra 40 per cent more cough and cold remedies into its stores as the cold snap is set to trigger a runny nose for some unlucky customers.

Getting to the supermarket won’t be a problem as cleverly constructed snow ploughs are on stand-by to clear the car parks of Asda’s biggest stores to ensure customers can continue to shop and stick up on winter warmers through the season’s harshest week yet.

Over 1,300 tonnes of grit – equivalent to 100 London buses or more than 200 bull elephants – have also been dropped off at Asda stores across the country.

Asda’s home shopping drivers have also been retrained to the highest industry standard to help them face even the worst wintery weather and safely deliver orders across the UK.

Chris Carden, Asda’s resident weatherman, said:

“Having had snow for the last two winters running, we’ve long been preparing ahead of the anticipated cold snap this year to ensure our customers can stock up on winter essentials for the entire family.

“We have special offers instore across all of our departments from thermals to de-icer keeping all of our 18m customers warm and safe ahead of the bad weather and we’re doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible to continue shopping at Asda. We’re echoing the weather experts with our advice; stay in, stay warm and stay safe.”

For more information on Asda’s winter weather products, visit www.asda.com
Posted in Press Centre on 04 February 2012
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  • 130 Asda colleagues celebrate at first Asda Skills Academy graduation

  • To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week Asda opens up opportunities for second cohort of apprentices to join 4,000 currently in training

  • Research by City & Guilds shows retail apprenticeships are set to generate £64 million for UK economy by 2020

130 Asda colleagues are the first to graduate from the Asda Skills Academy today after completing their City & Guilds apprenticeship programme with the retailer.

The inaugural ceremony, which marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week, sees colleagues from across the country come together in Leeds to receive their Level Two and Three City & Guilds qualifications from Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke and Chris Jones, Director General of CEO City & Guilds.

Colleagues graduating from the Asda Skills Academy today have successfully completed 12 modules of study designed to develop their retail knowledge and skills, as well as presented a portfolio of their work to City & Guilds for assessment.

The graduation follows the launch of a report by City & Guilds last week, entitled ‘The Economic Value of Apprenticeships’. The publication illustrates the important role apprenticeships play in expanding the skills base of the retail sector, and their likely impact on securing the long term viability of the UK economy. It reveals that a boost in retail apprenticeships alone is expected to generate up to £64 million for the UK economy by 2020.

Over 4,200 colleagues enrolled on Asda’s apprenticeship programme when the retailer launched its Skills Academy in June 2011 – today’s graduates are amongst the first to complete the programme, which can take up to 12 months.

This week Asda is again offering colleagues the opportunity to enrol on the programme with the second intake of the Asda Skills Academy

Through the Asda Skills Academy colleagues train for recognised qualifications in retail broadly equivalent to GCSE (at Level 2) and A Level (at Level 3). The programme has been developed with City & Guilds to focus on a range of retailing skills, including merchandising and customer service as well as craft skills like bakery.

Amongst those celebrating today is Emma Fishlock, a Sales Assistant from Asda Taunton who enrolled in the Asda Skills Academy last year. She comments:

“When Asda launched its apprenticeship programme last year, I jumped at the chance to sign up – I want to develop my career and studying for such a recognisable qualification is a really important part of that."

“I started on my level two course last year and have just graduated today. It’s been tough trying to complete all the modules, attend all the training classes and maintain my portfolio – whilst also juggling my day job, but work has been very supportive and I’ve found it really rewarding. It has taught me about other areas of the business and now I’m determined to work through each level – until I reach management.”

Andy Clarke, CEO and President of Asda, said:
“This is a really special day for us. I’m incredibly proud to see our first colleagues graduate from the Asda Skills Academy."

“Training and qualifications don’t just give people pieces of paper – they give them the confidence to do more than they thought they could. That’s why, at Asda, we don’t just offer our colleagues a job, but provide them with the means and the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence and to build a fulfilling career."

Chris Jones, CEO and Director-General of City & Guilds said:
“Apprenticeships are core to our purpose of enabling people and organisations to develop their skills for personal and economic growth. That’s why we are delighted to have been involved in developing Asda’s apprenticeship programme from the start and are extremely proud to celebrate the achievements of its first graduates. Asda’s Skills Academy is a great boost towards the success of our Million Extra campaign and to apprenticeships overall.”

Posted in Press Centre on 06 February 2012
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  • New Asda Mumdex research reveals how thousands of UK families are feeling about their finances, their community and the future of their family
  • Research shows kids remain mums’ top priority, spending nearly double on their children than what they put away for savings and pensions
  • Despite the tough economic conditions mums are optimistic about their own family’s quality of life

Asda today (Tuesday 21st February) announced the launch of its first Mumdex report – a substantial piece of research that doesn’t look to house prices or retail sales data to predict consumer confidence, but takes a look at how thousands of UK families are coping with the realities of the changing economic landscape.

The Mumdex report reveals that despite the tough times that face us all, and that 75 per cent of UK families are worse off than a year ago, mums are actually optimistic about the future of their own family’s quality of life. This optimism is driven by mums feeling confident in their ability to manage their own household finances and reflects a make do and mend mentality.

While 94 per cent of mums feel that their standard of living is lower or static compared to a year ago, mum has been quick to react as 93 per cent have changed their lifestyle in response to the economic downturn. Despite the squeeze mums’ overwhelming priority remains their kids. Mumdex shows that mums are allocating twice as much of their weekly budget for kids as they do for themselves or their partner as they act as a buffer zone for their kids, soaking up the negative impact of the downturn wherever possible.

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Posted in Press Centre on 21 February 2012
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Today Walmart reported its FY 2012 and Q4 financial performance for the year ending 31 January 2012.

At an event today, we gave an overview of Asda’s performance in 2011 and the run up to Christmas and launched our new research into mums views on the state of the economy – the Mumdex.

For those of you who couldn’t attend, below is a summary of the key points.

  • Asda’s LFL sales for the 14 weeks to January 7th were up 1.0 per cent* (ex-VAT and ex-petrol) – driven by the successful delivery of the Christmas plan in the final quarter of the year. The latest retail data shows continued market outperformance (source, Kantar Till Roll, 12 weeks to 22nd Jan 2012) showing Asda growing sales at the fastest rate of the top four supermarkets.
  • Finance Director Rob McWilliam confirmed that the APG £5 off £40 bonus hit a chord with Asda customers in the final quarter and at its peak Asda saw 1m APG checks per week. APG checks have now settled back to around 500,000 per week.
  • The partnership with Leiths for its Extra Special brand also resonated in the final quarter – with customers valuing the fact that quality doesn’t need to cost the earth. Extra Special was the fastest growing premium own label in December.

Looking at Asda’s overall performance in 2011 Rob drew attention to:

  • Price & Quality – Asda had managed to grow both price and quality perception at the same time – retailers tend to do one, but not both at once. Asda’s actual price gap over competitors is now almost twice the level it was in 2008. On quality, own label market share growth has outperformed the rest of the big four in 2011.
  • New Formats – 2011 was a signal year for Asda creating a chain of over 170 small supermarkets virtually from scratch, thanks to the conversion of the Netto stores acquired from Dansk.
  • New Channels – Asda’s online business also continues its steep growth curve. Sales through asda.com rose by almost 20 per cent in the quarter.

Asda COO Judith McKenna outlined the findings of a new research study called the Mumdex, which looks at the sentiments of Asda mums towards the economy and their community.

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Posted in Press Centre on 21 February 2012
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But UK families still £9 a week worse off in January 2012 than a year earlier

  • UK families were £9 a week worse off in January 2012 compared to the same month a year earlier

  • Average UK household had £147 a week of discretionary income in January, 5.5 per cent lower than a year earlier

  • Lowest annual decline since June 2011

  • Asda launches new online budget planning tool to help families balance the books

The latest Asda Income Tracker has revealed that family spending power fell by £9 a week in January 2012 – marking a further improvement on the pace of decline in recent months, with the lowest annual decline since June 2011. This left the average UK family with £147 of weekly disposable income – 5.5 per cent down from the same time last year.

While income growth remained weak at just 1.7 per cent over the year to January, a continued slowdown in the rising cost of essential items eased pressure on family budgets. The trend of smaller year-on-year declines continued, as consumer price inflation drops back from its peak last year. The official measure of the rising cost of living slowed notably in January, as the consumer price index (CPI) rose over the year by 3.6 per cent. This is the second consecutive sharp slowdown, and the largest two-month fall in the rate in three years.

A significant contributor to the sharp decline is the fact that rise in the VAT rate to 20.0 per cent last January is no longer shown in the annual price comparison. However this price increase is still built into the cost of living and will have a long-lasting effect on family purchasing power. The news in January that utility firms cut back the cost of power also offered a welcome break.

Balancing the two conflicting elements, family income growth is still very fragile, with the improving cost of basics overshadowed by the high number of workers becoming unemployed. Unemployment increased to 8.4 per cent during the three months to December– up from 7.8 at the start of 2011 – a trend that will continue to pull household finances away from growth.

Read more and download the full report
Posted in Press Centre on 24 February 2012
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The January 2012 edition of the Income Tracker report is based on an updated methodology.

In order to keep the Income Tracker model relevant and credible we have decided to do the following;

  • Use the most up to date ONS Living Costs and Food Survey (the 2011 edition, which covers household expenditure and income in 2010)
  • Reflect lower trend growth in the volume of essential goods and services in the post- financial crisis environment by revising down our volume assumption to 0.5pc from 1.4pc.

As you’ll appreciate this makes the latest vintage of Income Tracker data not directly comparable with previous versions – but the time series now available is up to date as possible with the latest detailed data on household expenditure. See page 17 for how this impacted the income tracker model in 2010.

In addition to the rebasing a significant contributing factor to the improvement in spending power is the fact that last January’s increase n the VAT rate to 20.0 per cent is no longer shown in the annual price comparison. However this price increase is still built into the cost of living and will have a long- lasting effect on family purchasing power. The below table gives you an idea of the impact of these changes. As you can see, the new model behaves in the same way as the old model, i.e. seeing a £1 improvement in family spending power, just from a lower base figure.

Income Tracker Methodology Changes

These changes have affected the absolute level of the income tracker and the year-on-year change; however, the overall message of how discretionary incomes have developed has not changed. A detailed briefing on the revisions is available on request.

Posted in Press Centre on 24 February 2012
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Asda today, 27 February, announced the appointment of Richard Mayfield as its new chief financial officer, replacing Judith McKenna who was promoted to chief operating officer in September 2011.

Richard, 43, is currently director of the shared services division at the John Lewis Partnership, responsible for financial, information technology, human resource and procurement services for the group. He joined the John Lewis Partnership in 2002 and was finance director for its Waitrose supermarkets division from 2004 to 2009. He will join Asda in the summer.

Asda President and CEO Andy Clarke said, “Richard brings a tremendous track record as one of Britain’s most talented finance directors to his new role. But more than that, because he understands, as we do, that we’re a business where people make the difference, I’m sure he’ll make a significant contribution around the board table.”

Asda also announced today that one of its key leaders would be moving to a broader role within Walmart.

Rob McWilliam, who’s held the chief financial officer role on an acting basis since September, will be taking on a broader role as Strategy Director, supporting David Cheesewright’s EMEA team and Asda on business development projects in the UK and EMEA region.

Rob has worked for Asda for 15 years and been at the helm of Asda’s 260-strong finance function during one of Asda’s most successful festive trading periods. In the interim, he’ll continue to lead Asda’s finance team and ensure a smooth handover to Richard in the months ahead.

“Rob has done an excellent job holding the CFO role while we looked for a permanent replacement for Judith and I’m sure he’ll continue to make a significant contribution to both Asda and David’s EMEA team.

“I wish Rob well in the next stage of his career.”

Posted in Press Centre on 27 February 2012