Asda credits ads as it declares itself the “clear winner” over Easter

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke has praised the role its advertising played in what he claims was a “clear win” for the supermarket over rivals in the battle for Easter custom.

The supermarket, the UK’s second largest in terms of sales and share, says sales from stores open for a year or more grew 0.1 per cent in the 15 weeks to 20 April. The performance is an improvement on the 0.1 per cent dip reported in the previous quarter.

Sales on Easter lines were up by double digits, the supermarket says.

Only Morrisons has signalled what its Easter trading figures were to date admitting to a weak Easter weekend earlier this month when announcing same store sales dipped 7.1 per cent in the 12 weeks to 4 May. However, latest Kantar data showed Asda growing sales and maintaining share while Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all suffered declines in the 12 weeks to 27 April.

Talking to Marketing Week at an event to announce its first quarter results, Clarke said the VCCP Blue-created ads helped in communicating Asda’s festive proposition.

“We were very clear winners of Easter and our external messaging was a key part of that. It’s a combination of what we are doing internally and what we are showing externally as well.”

Easter marketing included an Easter chick dancing to disco classic “Funky Town”.

Clarke said its decision to offset the £1bn it has committed to lowering prices by reducing operating costs is a “strategy not a slogan” that is helping mitigate the impact of the discounters and help it gain custom from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. He claimed it is reducing the differential between it and Aldi in terms of prices and widening the gap between it and its big four rivals.

Tesco and Morrisons have also announced wide-ranging price cuts to stem the flow of customers lost to the discounters.  

“We are in control of our own agenda, there are no knee jerk reactions like others might do,” he added.

Asda laid out its long-term “value” proposition in November with a promise to boost price competitiveness, the quality of its food offering and service, both online and in-store.

On service, the supermarket is aiming to increase the number of click and collect sites to 600 by the end of the year, while additional in-store resource to manage click and collect will be brought in. 

In total, 900 additional staff will be taken on mainly on the shop floor. However, the move is part of a restructure that puts more than 4,000 department managers’ jobs at risk following Asda’s decision to axe the role. Some will be redeployed as section leaders or in ecommerce roles but others are expected to leave when the 12-week consultation is completed. 

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