MORE than 19,000 Asda staff will share a record cash windfall of £61 million tomorrow as a three-year Walmart share scheme matures.
The record haul will mean the scheme run by the supermarket group’s US parent has delivered more than £650m for UK staff since it was first launched in 1982.
Hayley Tatum, Asda’s executive people director, said: “This record bonus pot reflects the success we’ve seen this year, all of which is down to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues across the business. Giving our colleagues the chance to save risk-free each month is just one of our ways of saying thank you.”
Asda said the most popular choices for its employees to spend their windfalls on remained foreign holidays, home improvements and weddings.
The scheme allows colleagues to set aside between £50 and £250 of their salary each month for a three-year period. At the end of the period they are given the opportunity to buy Walmart shares, which are traded on Wall Street, at a 20 per cent discount to the stock price at the beginning of the period.Asda staff are then able to sell the shares at today’s market rate, offering the chance to cash in on any positive movement of the share price over the three years. They also receive a small tax-free bonus.
The Sharesave payout for this year is based on the Walmart share price at market close on 31 May, 2013. The scheme won the 2012 Employee Benefit Award for the “most effective all-employee share scheme strategy”.
Total payouts from the Asda savings plan in the previous three years were £50.9m in 2012, £49m in 2011 and £47m in 2010.
Teresa Halliday, an Asda employee for eight years who works in the Asda branch in Crawley, Surrey, said she would put her Sharesave money towards her wedding after waiting 26 years to marry her fiancé.
“After 26 years of waiting I’ve finally been able to make the leap and start planning for the big day,” she said. “I’ve been saving through Sharesave for the past three years and this maturity has come at a perfect time for me.”
Asda, Britain’s second biggest supermarket group, with a near-18 per cent market share, revealed in May that it had weathered consumer pressures to post a 1.3 per cent rise in first-quarter like-for-like sales.
Like its main rivals, Asda’s resilience owed much to a strong online performance. Andy Clarke, the group’s chief executive, said household finances remained under pressure, but that Asda had responded with its Every Day Low Prices (EDLP) campaign, which promises its prices will be 10 per cent below its rivals.
Asda’s online sales in the 14 weeks to 12 April jumped 16 per cent. Richard Mayfield, chief financial officer, said “click and collect” groceries were now available in 100 of the company’s 568 stores.