Supermarket giant Asda has reported a 1.1% fall in sales in the latest quarter, as it was impacted by the later timing of Easter this year.
The results come days after owner Walmart said that the supermarket, which has Roger Burnley as its UK chief executive, could be floated on the stock market.
Asda delivered like-for-like sales growth of 0.5% excluding petrol, adjusted for the late timing of Easter.
The retailer said it was buoyed by strong online sales, as it reported double digit growth on its Asda.com and George.com platforms, while online grocery sales jumped 10%.
It said it invested to keep down prices of own-brand products and ‘Rollback’ offers on branded products during the period, amid intense competition from discounters in the sector.
Roger Burnley, Asda chief executive and president, said: “Throughout the quarter we have maintained our focus and momentum, against an increasingly challenging backdrop, and we remain entirely focused on delivering our strategy, without the benefits the proposed merger with Sainsbury’s would have delivered.
“We cannot be complacent, but I believe that we have the right plan and some amazing colleagues to deliver in this highly competitive market - and I’d like to thank them all for all their hard work.”
Brett Biggs, Walmart chief financial officer, said: “Against a challenging backdrop in the UK, Asda comparative sales declined with the Easter flip, but transactions were positive as customer experience continued to improve.
“The Asda team is making progress on key strategic priorities. For example, price competitiveness improved this quarter and private brand penetration grew.
“It’s a competitive market, but Asda is making steady progress in its positioning.