Asda chief feeling the heat over discounters

Last month, Sainsbury's overtook Asda to reclaim its position as the UK's second largest grocer for the first time since January. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Last month, Sainsbury's overtook Asda to reclaim its position as the UK's second largest grocer for the first time since January. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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ASDA boss Andy Clarke will have his work cut out this week convincing his doubters that the supermarket giant is fending off the onslaught from fast-growing discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The US-owned chain is due to publish second-quarter numbers on Thursday following a run of figures showing successive declines in quarterly like-for-like sales.

Last month, Asda saw rival Sainsbury’s overtake it to reclaim its position as the UK’s second largest grocer for the first time since January, acc­ording to latest till roll data from research body Kantar Worldpanel.

Clarke has already described the past few months as “unprecedented” as prices tumble across the industry, with the major grocers battling against the threat of the discounters.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said the Asda chief executive looked “embattled” and wondered how long he would “retain the confidence of his masters in Bentonville” in Arkansas where parent Wal-Mart has its head office in the US.

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