Wal-Mart's Asda unit 'most resilient' of four major UK supermarket chains being pressured by giant German discounters Aldi, Lidl; Asda lost least market share among 'big four' in 12 weeks ended March 30: Kantar

LONDON , April 8, 2014 () – Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda unit is the “most resilient” of the big four U.K. grocers under siege from German discounters Aldi and Lidl, research from Kantar Worldpanel showed today. Asda, Britain’s second-largest supermarket chain, lost the least market share in the 12 weeks ended March 30, dropping to 17.4 percent from 17.6 percent a year earlier, Kantar said in a statement today. Asda’s revenue fell 0.5 percent, the smallest drop among the big four. Aldi reported another period of record sales, with revenue growth of 35.3 percent.

Asda was the first large supermarket to say it wanted to close the price gap to the budget stores when it announced a 1 billion-pound ($1.7 billion) investment in reducing prices over five years in November. Larger rival Tesco Plc and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc followed suit with similar announcements this year.

“All of the ‘big four’ supermarkets have faced declining sales over the past 12 weeks, which has been accentuated by the late falling of Easter,” said Edward Garner, a director at Kantar. “They have also seen worrying share declines, with the most resilient performance coming from Asda this period.”

J Sainsbury Plc, the third-largest U.K. grocer, reported the first drop in sales since 2004, with revenue down 1.7 percent, today’s report shows. Its market share declined to 16.5 percent from 16.9 percent.

Sainsbury’s stock fell 2.1 percent to 303.60 pence at 12:09 p.m. in London, while Tesco dropped 1.1 percent to 280.15 pence and Morrison declined 1.7 percent to 201.50 pence.

Tesco’s market share slid to 28.6 percent from 29.7 percent, with sales down 3 percent. Morrison’s share weakened to 11.1 percent from 11.6 percent as its sales fell 3.8 percent.

The upmarket Waitrose chain, which has benefited from a polarization in the grocery market with its emphasis on food provenance, increased sales by 4.5 percent and its share rose to 5 percent from 4.8 percent.

Aldi almost caught up with Waitrose, with its share jumping to 4.6 percent from 3.4 percent. Lidl’s rose to 3.4 percent from 2.9 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net Robert Valpuesta, David Risser

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