A employee pushes purchasing trolleys at an Asda retailer in west London, Britain, April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) – British grocery store group Asda has chartered its personal cargo ship to guard availability of key Christmas merchandise, it mentioned on Monday because it reported a drop in underlying gross sales within the third quarter.

Asda, owned by brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and personal fairness group TDR Capital, mentioned on Monday the ship, carrying 350 containers of festive merchandise together with decorations, toys, clothes and items, would arrive in the UK shortly.

British retailers are grappling with delays in worldwide provide chains which can be being compounded by labour shortages in home transport and warehousing networks, with an absence of heavy items car (HGV) drivers notably acute.

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Asda mentioned it had additionally elevated the quantity of turkeys and pigs in blankets in shops in comparison with final 12 months, in addition to constructing additional inventory of festive merchandise in depots equivalent to mince pies, confectionary, Christmas truffles and puddings.

It has additionally recruited 15,000 momentary employees for the Christmas interval and elevated the capability of its grocery house supply service to at least one million slots within the last week earlier than Christmas.

Supermarkets additionally face powerful comparisons towards document gross sales throughout COVID-19 restrictions final 12 months that meant extra meals had been consumed at house.

Asda mentioned like-for-like gross sales, excluding gas, fell 0.7% year-on-year within the three months to Sept. 30, its fiscal third quarter, having fallen by the identical quantity in its second quarter. learn extra

Like-for-like gross sales had been up 2.0% on the identical interval in 2019, earlier than the pandemic impacted buying and selling.

Asda, which has a UK market share of 14.3%, lagging trade chief Tesco (TSCO.L) and Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), mentioned whole third-quarter income, excluding gas, was 4.93 billion kilos ($6.56 billion).

It mentioned demand for on-line groceries softened through the quarter, with gross sales down by 2.7% on the identical interval final 12 months as extra prospects returned to shops. On-line grocery gross sales had been up 80% on a two-year foundation.

Asda has been and not using a CEO since Roger Burnley abruptly left the group in August. learn extra

Nevertheless, final week it named Stuart Rose, the previous boss of Marks & Spencer (MKS.L), as its new chairman. learn extra

($1 = 0.7514 kilos)

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Reporting by James Davey; Enhancing by Jan Harvey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.