Big 4 grocer Asda has revealed a surge in sales over the past quarter, attributing the change in lockdown restrictions to its success.
The grocer confirmed that Walmart has taken almost £3 billion worth of dividends ahead of a change of management.
Although Asda is still awaiting approval from the CMA to complete its £6.6 billion takeovers by the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backers TDR Capital, the deal will see current owners US retail giant Walmart retain a minority stake.
Earlier this week, the Big 4 grocer filed its statutory results for 2020, which revealed that Walmart withdrew significant dividends during the year.
The dividends include payment of £1.65 billion in cash during the year, as well as a dividend in species – a payment satisfied through assets – worth £1.29 billion.
The confirmation comes as Asda revealed a 7.3 per cent jump in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the three months to the end of March.
Asda’s outgoing chief executive Roger Burnley said demand was boosted by the closure of non-essential retailers during the third lockdown in the UK over winter.
Asda said this helped to drive strong clothing and general merchandise sales, which increased by 31 per cent and 39 per cent respectively.
It also revealed, “strong demand” for outdoor furniture, BBQs and garden accessories, as customers prepared to host friends and family outside after lockdown restrictions began to ease.
Asda reported like-for-like food sales increased by 3.9 per cent as the closure of hospitality continued to drive grocery sales.
Total digital sales also rose by 88 per cent for the quarter.
“We showed huge resilience last year in unprecedented circumstances and carried this momentum through the first quarter with strong like-for-like sales growth in many key categories, especially clothing and general merchandise,” Burnley said.
“Whilst the closure of non-essential retail during the first quarter helped stimulate demand, our constant focus on keeping prices low, providing great quality products and developing in-store partnerships with market-leading consumer brands such as B&Q, The Entertainer and Greggs continues to resonate with customers.”
with PA Wires