Asda claims victory in ‘Big Four’ sales battle

Roger Burnley has told colleagues of a turnaround at the supermarket

Asda's new boss has claimed that the struggling grocer mounted an unlikely resurgence over the festive period, luring shoppers away from its biggest ­rivals and racking up the best sales of the Big Four supermarkets.

Roger Burnley, who took the helm at the start of this year, has told colleagues that the grocer beat its targets “by some way” in December. 

The mini-revival is a significant step in Asda’s long-term attempts to regain ground lost in recent years. The Walmart-owned grocer has been the worst performer for years after losing its competitive edge to rivals following a brutal price war. The chain finished bottom of the pile last Christmas when it registered a 2.9pc sales fall in the ­final three months of 2016.

“In December we were the only one of the ‘Big Four’ to hold our market share year-on-year despite the considerable number of new stores that the discounters have opened in the year, and we reduced considerably our losses to the discounters,” Mr Burnley proudly said in a message to colleagues, seen by The Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Burnley, who joined Asda from Sainsbury’s, said “We’re still getting back on our feet, so I expect us to beat last year – but we have momentum and a great platform for our ambitious plans.” 

The Asda boss said that the supermarket had enjoyed the best like-for-like sales growth across the market and “most pleasingly, we gained customers from all three of the other ­supermarkets”. Mr Burnley revealed to colleagues that he would be setting out his strategy to accelerate Asda’s turnaround at a company-wide meeting next month. 

The Grocer has revealed figures that suggest that Asda grew sales by 5.3pc over December, higher than Morrisons, Tesco or Asda. 

Food retailers have outperformed the high street as rising inflation prompted customers to prioritise spending on food and fuel. British households spent a record average of £1,054 on groceries during the last three months of the year, an extra £1bn on Christmas food in total. 

Of the listed supermarkets, Morrisons was last week crowned the Christmas winner, while Tesco failed to meet targets. Britain’s biggest retailer blamed the disappointing figures on the collapse of wholesaler Palmer & Harvey that took the shine off record food sales. Sainsbury’ strong food sales were let down by weakness at Argos.