Asdas like-for-like sales fell 5.8% in the fourth quarter

Asda's like-for-like sales fell 5.8% in the fourth quarter

UK supermarket retailer Asda has said it is cautiously optimistic its sales will improve, despite posting another decline in quarterly like-for-likes. 

Like-for-like sales fell 5.8% during the 13 weeks to 1 January. For the full year, like-for-like sales were down 4.7%. 

As part of its five-year strategy, the company is overhauling its range assortment to better reflect what customers want, modernising 95 of its largest stores with new layouts and changes to merchandising to improve ease of shop, and simplifying its head office structure to drive operational efficiencies. 

"Our strong financial position has allowed us to take bold and fundamental decisions about the way we need to run the business," said president and CEO Andy Clarke. "We have taken control of our own destiny, and are not at the mercy of market pressures or whatever our competitors feel is necessary. 

"While I am cautiously optimistic that our sales will gradually improve, it won't happen overnight given that 2016 is likely to be another tough and competitive year for the sector as a whole. 

Commenting on the results, Verdict analyst George Scott said: "If it is to improve its outlook Asda however needs to evolve its mainstay food positioning. 

"Indeed its George fashion and home label, which has been performing strongly for some time, has exactly the type of balanced consideration of price and quality which that it needs to aim for in food."

Separately, parent company Wal-Mart lowered its fiscal 2017 sales outlook after both its fourth-quarter and full-year profits declined on lower sales and higher operating expenses. 

Wal-Mart lowers outlook on Q4 decline

Last month, Asda revealed that Fiona Lambert, the head of its George clothing division, was stepping down from her role amid a structural review at the business that would see hundreds of head office jobs cut. 

Head of Asda's George to step down amid HQ cuts