SUPERMARKET giant Asda has won praise from David Cameron after announcing plans to create 12,000 jobs over the next five years.
The Prime Minister, who was visiting one of Asda’s stores in south London yesterday, said the move by the Leeds-based retailer would “give people financial security for the future”.
Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Asda’s US parent company, Walmart, said the supermarket was “creating more new jobs and bringing real value to more customers in the UK”.
The five-year strategy has the potential to create up to 12,000 new jobs in parts of the country where Asda does not currently have stores. No details have been released about where the jobs will be based.
Mr Cameron said: “Supporting business, creating jobs and cutting taxes are all part of our long-term economic plan.
“Yesterday, our tax reforms cut income tax for 26 million people and will help businesses to create jobs.
“I am delighted that Asda is continuing to invest heavily in the UK, creating another 12,000 jobs that will give people financial security for the future.”
Asda’s recent five-year strategy announced 40 new conventional superstores, 100 new supermarkets, 150 forecourt shops, 1,000 new click-and-collect points and greater online penetration.
In November, the firm said it planned to invest in lowering its prices as well as improving the quality, design and style of its stores nationwide.
Mr McMillon, who showed Mr Cameron around Asda’s Clapham Junction store, said: “It has been a pleasure to meet with the Prime Minister today and reaffirm Walmart’s commitment to investing in the UK.
“We know that the UK is a great place to do business and, since Walmart acquired Asda 15 years ago, we have been able to invest £8bn in the UK economy – creating over 100,000 jobs, opening 342 new Asda stores and bringing lower prices to millions of customers.
“A seismic shift in the structure of the retail market is under way – not just in the UK but right across the world. Asda recognised the change in its market and took early action to develop and implement a strategy that will see it grow – creating more new jobs and bringing real value to more customers in the UK.”
Mr McMillon, who recently took on the role of president and chief executive of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is in London as the firm prepares to hold its first board meeting in the UK.
Last month Asda said the loss of nearly 150 white collar jobs at its head office in Leeds was part of its efforts to cope with seismic changes in shopping behaviour.
The job losses, which affected every rung of the management ladder, represented a large share of a programme to make 202 management roles redundant. The other 50 plus roles were lost in Lutterworth in Leicestershire, where Asda’s clothing arm, George, is based.
The highest-profile redundancy was Karen Hubbard, executive director for property, who joined Asda five years ago and helped oversee the integration of the Netto stores.
During yesterday’s visit to Asda, customer Tara Leniston asked the Prime Minister to hold her baby, Luca Fowler, and pose for a picture. Mr Cameron joked that it made him “broody” as he held the 11-month-old, who gently tapped the Premier on the head with an Easter bunny balloon.