Press Centre

ASDA will create another 1,330 new jobs in Scotland this year as it continues to expand north of the border.  

Continuing its ongoing commitment to Scotland, the company will open three new stores in Scotland before the end of the year, with sites in Alloa, Galashiels and Grangemouth due to start trading in September and November*. 

 

The new builds will create a total of 1,130 jobs (300 in Alloa, 480 in Galashiels and 350 in Grangemouth) - increasing ASDA's workforce by nearly 10 per cent in Scotland.  

The news follows two recent openings, which included the company’s first Scottish “non-food supermarket” concept, ASDA Living, at Glasgow Fort, and a store in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, both of which began trading earlier this year.  They created a total of 200 new jobs between them.    

ASDA plans to continue to invest in Scotland in 2007, with stores planned in Stenhousemuir, Dalgety Bay, and a Living store in Edinburgh, amongst others. 

 

A major investment is also planned for the Highlands, with Tain, Banff and Inverness expecting new stores.  

ASDA’s regional MD for the North, Glenn Bowles, explains why he sees Scotland as presenting some of the best opportunities for future development: 

“Scotland is our traditional heartland, and Scots are some of our most loyal customers.  We will be working alongside the communities we serve to ensure the local traders see the benefit of our presence. 

 

"Our COLLECT & SAV£ Scheme, a reciprocal trading initiative with local businesses, was trialled in Huntly earlier this year and has proved very successful, with almost a quarter of the town’s population taking part in the scheme.  We hope to introduce this in other towns when we open new stores.”  

In addition, ASDA is committed to using local suppliers.  “Choice, value and quality are what our customers really want and local food products always seem to hit the spot, particularly so in Scotland.  It guarantees more choice for customers and more sales for local suppliers – everyone wins,” says Karen Todd, Head of Local Sourcing for ASDA. 

ASDA Local Celebration Weeks are taking place this month offering local food producers the chance to take to the shop floor and give customers a taste of their products. 

 

ASDA carries a wide range of Scottish products including those by Tunnock’s, McCowan’s, Rizza, Baxters, Malcolm Allan, Lees of Scotland, Dean’s of Huntly and Simmers of Edinburgh.

Posted in Press Centre on 10 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA today (8 August 2006)  announced a ground breaking two year deal, the first of its kind, with Dairy Crest and the farmers that supply milk to its Aspatria dairy. 

ASDA has committed to take cheese from the Cumbria-based dairy for the next two years, as well as promising to only review forward prices every six months. 

 

No other retailer in the UK does this, meaning that the price paid for milk bought to make cheese can fluctuate making it increasingly difficult for farmers to plan ahead. 

 

The move follows ASDA’s recent call to ‘End The Cheddar Lottery’.  All its Cheddar is British and comes from the same site. 

 

This can’t be said for other supermarkets who source from a number of countries including: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Poland, Latvia, Ireland and Britain. 

The supermarket is also encouraging others to follow its lead in supporting British farmers by sourcing from the UK and striking similar deals. 

“This is the first time anyone has committed to a deal like this,” said ASDA’s head of ethical and sustainable sourcing, Dr Chris Brown.

 

“It’s fantastic news for the farmers that supply Aspatria and is a further illustration of our commitment to British farmers and builds on other industry-leading initiatives we are involved with, such as the ASDA Milk Partnership.” 

 

Tom Hind, Chief Dairy Advisor National Farmers Union, said in support of the move:

 

“The British dairy industry needs longer term commitments to give dairy farmers confidence and this initiative is a welcome step towards achieving that objective. However, there is still much more to do and we would encourage all retailers to build relationships like this and to move away from the practice of short term tenders, which are very often for imported cheese.” 

The dedicated ASDA site in Aspatria, Cumbria, which is run by Dairy Crest, currently sources 100% of its milk from the surrounding area and plays an important role in supporting the local farming community. 

Posted in Press Centre on 08 August 2006
Press Centre

Today [3rd August], ASDA became the first supermarket to launch an assault on the £9bn¹, and growing, home furnishings market with a new range of furniture that promises to bring George style and value to the nation’s homes. 

 The range, landing in stores through August, is made up of 137 items of flat-pack and ready-assembled furniture ranging from high quality leather sofas for £300 to foldaway dining chairs for only £6.48. 

The 72-piece George flat-pack and Smart Price furniture range will be available in 60 stores by the end of August and can be popped in your trolley alongside your peas and pizza. 

Customers visiting ASDA’s six Living stores and twelve of ASDA’s bigger stores² will be able to browse the 65-piece George fine furniture range and then order via a catalogue. 

This range includes oak dining furniture (tables, leather-covered dining chairs, sideboards and console tables), leather and fabric sofas, office furniture and bedroom sets (beds, wardrobes, bedside tables and drawers³). 

The range has been designed by the George Homewares team and the emphasis is on quality as much as value.  All ASDA leather sofas are built to a high standard using wooden frames and traditional techniques and are covered in high quality leather. 

All wooden furniture is constructed from FSC certified timber including the Oakley dining range which is made from sustainable oak. The ASDA furniture range comes with a “white glove” customer care service. 

Delivery is within 20 days and is free; a two-man team will bring the furniture into your home and place it exactly where you want it and, unlike other retailers they’ll unwrap it and take all the packaging away. 

The range will compliment the £30m George Homewares range of 2,000 home accessories and soft furnishings launched in May this year which has already become a bestseller. 

And you can even find the house to put it all in at ASDA.  In May, it was the first UK supermarket to unveil a home-buying and selling service. 

The trial, in ten stores in the north east, allows customers to shop for a semi or browse the bungalows on a specially created database via high-tech terminals in its stores. 

The service promises to sell your home for half the price of a high street estate agent by charging only a 1% fee.  

“Sofa so good?  Not always.” said Sarah Opie, ASDA Homewares Buying Manager, “When it comes to value and quality many of our competitors have quite simply been lounging around. 

 We reckon our new range will challenge customers’ expectations on the quality and value they can expect not just from supermarket, but also high street, furniture ranges.” 

 

Posted in Press Centre on 09 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA confirmed today it wants to discourage customers from using free, single trip plastic carrier bags by introducing a new range of 'bags for life' in all of its 307 stores nationwide*.

The new durable bags are designed for repeated use and will cost just 5p each with a penny of that going to charity. They will be replaced free of charge by ASDA when they reach the end of their working life - hence the name 'bags for life'.

The supermarket has also pledged to recycle any 'bags for life' customers return to the store to prevent them ending up in landfill sites.

Ian Bowles, environment manager at ASDA said: "It's simply not sustainable for shoppers to carry on throwing away billions of plastic bags each year. That's why we intend to encourage our customers to switch to using durable, 'bags for life' instead.

"Our new bags cost just 5p each, with a penny of that going to charity. We will replace them for free if they break and we'll recycle any they bring back to prevent any more plastic ending up in landfill sites."

Last month ASDA announced it will stop sending any waste to landfill sites by 2010. The commitment means that by 2010 everything the supermarket disposes of at the back of its stores will be recycled, reused or composted instead of being sent to landfill.

It has also embarked on a complete review of its own label packaging to reduce the amount of household rubbish shoppers throw away each year. All of the products it sells (under the ASDA brand) will be redesigned over the next 18 months, with the aim of reducing the weight and volume of packaging it produces by at least ten per cent.

ENDS

Posted in Press Centre on 03 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA is encouraging parents across the country to ‘shop’ their local school, if they are told where they must buy their school uniform from. 

The Shop ‘em to Stop ‘em campaign petitions, which go onto George counters across the country today (14 August 2006), provide the opportunity for parents to give details, anonymously if they wish, of schools that dictate where they must buy uniforms from. 

The petitions will then be handed to the Office of Fair Trading* which has recently written to 10,000 schools across the country. 

The study follows complaints from parents that they are being bullied into buying school uniforms that are over priced and are poor quality from ‘preferred outfitters’. 

“You don’t need a GCSE in maths to see that something doesn’t quite add up,” says Angela Spindler, George Global’s managing director. 

“Customers have always told us that they think it’s unfair that in some cases they are being forced to pay over the odds, by the school their kids go to, for school uniforms.  It’s something that we’ve been campaigning to put a stop to for some time. 

"We are appealing for any parent who thinks that it’s not on, to come to ASDA and sign the Shop ‘em and Stop ‘em campaign today,” added Angela. 

The school uniform market is worth £450 million, according to the OFT. 

A quick search on the internet revealed that a black school blazer available from George that sells for £10 was £22 from one of the ‘preferred’ school outfitters  ASDA sells more school uniforms than anyone else. 

Last year alone customers bought 2.5m trousers, over half a million shirts and 2.5m skirts.   Prices start at just 95p for a white shirt, a pair of grey trousers or skirt costs just £1.95 meaning that you can get a school outfit for an incredible £2.90. 

Parents wishing to sign the petition should visit their nearest ASDA, ASDA Living or George store. 

Posted in Press Centre on 14 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA announced today (Monday 28th August) that it will no longer ask people applying for a job at any of its 308 stores across the UK to give their date of birth on their application form. 

The move is further evidence of the supermarket’s commitment to take on colleagues of all ages, from 16 to 70+, and reinforces the fact that age does not play any part in its recruitment process. 

This goes beyond new age discrimination legislation which will come into effect on 1st October 2006. 

Whilst the new regulations seek to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of age, they do not go so far as to prevent employers asking candidates how old they are when applying for a job, neither do they scrap the mandatory retirement age.  This still leaves people over 65 without the right to choose whether they carry on working. 

ASDA believes the regulations should go further, to make it illegal for employers to turn people down for a job on the grounds of their age or to force workers to retire at 65, the state pension age. 

ASDA is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers of the over 50s, with more than 30,000 older workers amongst its colleagues. 

The supermarket has no official retirement age or process, and gives colleagues the right to carry on working until whatever age they choose – there is no presumption that any colleague will leave their employment or cut back their hours when they hit 65.   

David Smith, people director at ASDA, said: "We simply don’t see the point in asking people for their age when it’s completely irrelevant to our recruitment process. 

"We take on the best personality for the job, regardless of when they were born.  Our oldest recruit was over 80 when they joined us and they’re living proof that age isn’t a barrier at ASDA. 

“We also have thousands of colleagues working for us who are beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, and many of these are people who’ve had successful careers in other industries but been forced into retirement. 

"We’re now reaping the benefits as they enjoy a second career in retail.” 

Ailsa Ogilvie, Director of Heyday, the membership organisation for people thinking about, approaching or in retirement, welcomed the news: “At Heyday we are pleased that ASDA is taking a lead in not asking job candidates for their ages and, like a number of other businesses, recruits and retains staff beyond the state pension age. 

"Our research shows that as many as 58% of people in their 50s and 60s want to work on either full time or part time, and that mature workers are good for business and good for the economy.   

“What a pity that the Government is intending to maintain a Mandatory Retirement Age of 65 in its new ‘anti-discrimination’ laws this October.  At Heyday we believe forced retirement should be scrapped – making companies like ASDA the norm, rather than the exception.” 

ASDA operates a number of flexible working packages to support older workers, such as Grandparents’ Leave (for those wanting to take time off on the birth of a grandchild) and There 2 Care Leave (for those who need time away from work to care for a sick or elderly family member or friend). 

Flexible working hours are also available for colleagues if they would prefer to work fewer hours or shifts as they get older. 

Posted in Press Centre on 28 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA today (16 August 2006) said that it would be reducing fuel in all of its 167 petrol stations to the same low prices, with unleaded moving to 93.9 pence per litre and diesel to 95.9 pence per litre.

Recent falls in the price of both crude oil and refined products have enabled ASDA to pass on cost savings to its customers. 

To ensure that all customers benefit from the lower costs, ASDA has reduced prices at all its forecourts to the same level, irrespective of where customers live and the prices set by local competitors.

From Wednesday morning, at all 167 ASDA petrol stations across the UK and Northern Ireland, motorists will be able to fill up for up to four pence per litre less, at the same low prices of 93.9 pence per litre for unleaded and 95.9 pence per litre for diesel.

On top of this price reduction, all ASDA credit and store cardholders are also immediately entitled to a further two pence per litre of fuel discount when paying with their card[i].

With recent predictions that £1 per litre of petrol seemed inevitable, ASDA is continuing to be the customer champion by offering fuel from as little as 91.9 pence per litre[ii].

ASDA's move to maintain low fuel prices differs from other forecourt operators where high prices persist and the benefit of cost reductions are not handed back to customers.

“Again, we are the first retailer to pass on fuel cost savings to our customers, and again, we have taken the opportunity to move to a national price so that the same low prices are available to all our customers”, said ASDA Trading Director, Andy Brem.

“While the oil market remains volatile, the end of the US motoring season has reduced demand which has in turn led to lower market costs.  While these may prove to be short term, we have an obligation to pass on cost savings to our customers whenever they occur. 

"Our advice, as always, is to check the price at the pump – this reduction proves it pays to shop around.” 

Posted in Press Centre on 15 August 2006
Press Centre

In a bid to cut food miles even further, ASDA announced today (Monday 14th August) a group of farmers will start delivering their produce direct to its stores, rather than sending it via one of its distribution centres hundreds of miles away. 

The trial in Cornwall is set to save 6,000 road miles a month but has the potential, if rolled out across the UK, to save a further three million road miles a year. 

The latest pilot scheme follows a series of measures introduced by the supermarket to cut its carbon emissions, including switching to bio-diesel and moving more freight by train. ASDA has committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 80,000 tonnes a year by 20071. 

Initially three farms will take part in the two month pilot scheme, supplying their local ASDA stores with strawberries, potatoes, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks and curly kale. All of the produce will be clearly labelled 'Produce of Cornwall'. 

Each of the participating farmers will deliver their produce into one farm near Hayle in Cornwall, where the owner, local strawberry grower Neil Hosking, will then pack and transport it onto ASDA stores in Falmouth, St Austell, Bodmin and Plymouth 

At present, all of their produce is collected by lorry and transported to an ASDA depot in Bristol 140 miles away before it is driven back down the motorway to stores in Cornwall and Devon. 

Chris Brown, ASDA's head of ethical and sustainable sourcing said: "We are committed to cutting the number of miles our food travels before it reaches our stores.  

"Rather than send it up the motorway, our farmers in Cornwall will deliver it direct to their local stores. That way we can ensure our fruit and veg is as fresh as possible, and we'll minimise the impact on the environment."  

Eighty ASDA stores across Britain already receive direct deliveries of locally produced strawberries during the British growing season. The scheme was first launched in Kent five years ago but has since been rolled out to Yorkshire, Scotland, West Midlands and the West Country and Cornwall. As a result sales of locally produced strawberries are up 48 per cent this year at ASDA.  

This year locally grown plums are also being delivered direct to 22 ASDA stores in the Vale of Evesham and in Kent. The supermarket will also be selling locally produced Kentish cobnuts from the end of August in its stores in the region2. 

The next local food range to launch at the supermarket it called 'Locally produced in Sussex'. From 15th September five ASDA stores across the region will start selling more than 60 local food products to their customers.

ENDS

Posted in Press Centre on 14 August 2006
Press Centre

ASDA revealed today (15 August) that Coleen McLoughlin, the face of George’s hugely successful Must Have press ad campaign, will be making her TV advertising debut.

In the next phase of George at ASDA’s multi-million pound ‘Must Have’ ad campaign, Coleen, will star in the George TV ad which airs between 31st August and 13th September.

Filmed on location in Lisbon, Portugal, viewers will see Coleen dressed in up-to-the-minute fashion walking down a swanky continental street.  Boutique owners spot her, opening their doors and placing items in their windows, all in an attempt to entice her in.  She smiles and keeps walking.  The last shot is of Coleen appearing at the end of a street with loads of carrier bags…all of which, like the clothes she wears in the ad, are from George.

“Our Must Have collections have been a huge success,” says Angela Spindler, George Global’s managing director.  “Must Have is a really simple range of up-to-the-minute, easy-to-wear, fashion pieces that we’re bringing to our customers every month at simply unbeatable prices.  Combine this with Coleen, one of Britain’s top fashion icons, and you can see why we have a winning formula.”

“I can’t wait to see the finished ads, it’s all very exciting,” said Coleen McLoughlin.  “Must Haves just seem to get better and better and are always at the top of my shopping list.”

Must Haves are essential fashion-led pieces that instantly update your wardrobe.  The design team at George create trend-led separates that are updated each month and transform your wardrobe for good.  Even better, George has decided Must Haves come with Must Buy prices tags with items starting from as little as £3.

The first ‘Must Have’ item was a bang on trend khaki shirt dress for only £10.  The dress was modelled by Coleen and, within hours of them hitting the rails, 45,000 were sold.

When Coleen launched the Must Have range at the end of May wearing a £10 shirt dress, tens of thousands sold in a matter of hours, making it one of George’s fastest selling items in its 16 year history.  It was a similar story for its £6 cropped shorts (70,000 pairs sold) and its £3 racer back vests (100,000 sold). 

The Must Have collection will be available in 290 ASDA and George stand-alone stores nationwide from 31st August.  It will include, amongst other things, skinny jeans, oversize knits, deep plunge v necks and long-line jersey tops.  Prices are being kept firmly under wraps.  

George is now a global clothing brand, available in ten countries worldwide with a turnover of £2bn.

ENDS
Posted in Press Centre on 16 August 2006
Press Centre

Those in their twenties are three times as likely to take a sick day as their colleagues who are over fifty years of age, according to a new survey. 

The research by superstore Asda shows that 27 years of age – the average age of a UK homeowner – is the tipping point when the amount of sick days being taken starts to decrease, perhaps in response to a change in priorities and life responsibilities. 

Of those surveyed, 42 per cent of people who “pulled a sicky” were more likely to blame unhappiness rather than hangovers as the real reason for their absence from work.  

 

Other reasons for taking sick days included splitting up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a pet and having to take your car for regular maintenance.   

 

The dark winter months and the cricket season were also popular for taking unauthorised time off from work.   

Older workers also proved less likely to take time off for the common cold or flu – shattering the preconceived image of age and sickness being interlinked.  In fact, workers who are older than 60 are the least likely to take a sick day. 

Kirsty Leyland, Asda’s head of colleague relations said, “A happy workforce is a productive workforce, and this ethos helps cut absenteeism.  Surprisingly, hangovers are not as common a reason for a sick day as everyone thinks!   

“At Asda, we strive to ensure we have happy colleagues with a great benefits package and flexible working policies to suit our colleagues’ needs. 

 

"For example, hundreds of people have taken advantage of our ‘German Jolly’ World Cup Leave over the last month, which gave colleagues the chance to take up to two weeks’ unpaid leave to enjoy the footy.

 

“We’ve always found that happy colleagues means happy customers are they’re the best-equipped to give the helpful, friendly service that our customers love and have come to expect at our stores.”  

ASDA has a wide range of flexible working policies that help cut the number of days off sick that colleagues take which are not genuinely illness-related. 

If your car breaks down or if you have your kids’ sports day or school play coming up, ASDA operates ‘shift swaps’ to give added flexibility around your working hours, plus colleagues can take a half day holiday to hold their child's hand on their first day at school or ask for extended leave during school summer holidays.

Posted in Press Centre on 01 August 2006