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Asda sales fall 4% in 'most challenging' year

Asda will open the UK’s first “intelligent click-and-collect pod” next month, as the supermarket chain announced a 3.9% fall in like-for-like sales for the 15 weeks to April 19.

The pod will be attached to a petrol station on a commuter belt in St Helen’s between Liverpool and Manchester, and will store customer orders including George clothing, homewares and groceries, at the relevant temperature. Customers type in their order number and the products will be dispatched within 60 seconds.

Asda has increased click-and-collect sites by 94% year on year to 611 and said it is improving customer service by investing £21m in increasing store hours for various roles across the business.

The supermarket chain gave no breakdown for its George clothing business but said it had strong sales and profits for George Home, with a 380 bps operating margin.

Asda president and chief executive Andy Clarke said the company is committed to its five-year strategy to redefine value retailing in a challenging market.

He said that while there were signs of “real and sustainable economic recovery”, 2015 was proving to be the most challenging year yet for traditional supermarkets.

Through its income tracker, the retailer found that the average family is £16 a week better off than the same period last year, but 43% said they feel like they have less money now than before the 2008 recession.

Clarke added: “Customers are not yet cash-confident, preferring to save rather than spend and, as expected, the market remains turbulent. Despite all this we remain a financially strong and balanced business, one which was first to market with our strategy. I’m fully committed to delivering long-term growth at Asda and focussing on giving customers what they want.”

The supermarket chain confirmed previous reports that it will open its first London high street store trials by the end of this year. The trials, previously announced in Drapers in March, will be located in Deptford and Wealdstone and will have click-and-collect stations offering access to its clothing arm George.

@Tara_Hounslea

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