LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - British supermarket group Asda
has chartered its own cargo ship to protect availability of key
Christmas products, it said on Monday as it reported a drop in
underlying sales in the third quarter.
Asda, owned by brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and private
equity group TDR Capital, said on Monday the ship, carrying 350
containers of festive products including decorations, toys,
clothing and gifts, would arrive in the United Kingdom shortly.
British retailers are grappling with delays in international
supply chains that are being compounded by labour shortages in
domestic transport and warehousing networks, with a lack of
heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers particularly acute.
Asda said it had also increased the volume of turkeys and
pigs in blankets in stores compared to last year, as well as
building extra stock of festive products in depots such as mince
pies, confectionary, Christmas cakes and puddings.
It has also recruited 15,000 temporary workers for the
Christmas period and increased the capacity of its grocery home
delivery service to one million slots in the final week before
Supermarkets also face tough comparisons against record
sales during COVID-19 restrictions last year that meant more
meals were consumed at home.
Asda said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, fell 0.7%
year-on-year in the three months to Sept. 30, its fiscal third
quarter, having fallen by the same amount in its second quarter.
Like-for-like sales were up 2.0% on the same period in 2019,
before the pandemic impacted trading.
Asda, which has a UK market share of 14.3%, lagging industry
leader Tesco and Sainsbury's, said total
third-quarter revenue, excluding fuel, was 4.93 billion pounds
It said demand for online groceries softened during the
quarter, with sales down by 2.7% on the same period last year as
more customers returned to stores. Online grocery sales were up
80% on a two-year basis.
Asda has been without a CEO since Roger Burnley abruptly
left the group in August.
However, last week it named Stuart Rose, the former boss of
Marks & Spencer, as its new chairman.
($1 = 0.7514 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Jan Harvey and Emelia