Asda is expected to serve up its first quarter of positive sales growth in three years this week, giving the supermarket a brief respite from 12 quarters of relentlessly woeful trading.
The Walmart-owned supermarket has been tarnished as the worst performing major grocer as its rivals have been more aggressive in responding to the threat from rapidly expanding discounters Aldi and Lidl.
However, the grocer could report like-for-like sales growth of around 1pc to 2pc for the second quarter, marking a turnaround from the 7.5pc sales slump last year, which was its worst ever result.
Asda will have benefited from the return of shop price inflation and favourable comparisons against last year’s drop, but the supermarket has also been buoyed by new boss Steve Clarke’s efforts to stabilise it.
Mr Clarke has introduced targeted price reductions, culled the number of products on shelves by 25pc and introduced a “Farm Stores” value food brand, in order to sharpen Asda’s competitiveness against Aldi and Lidl.
However, it is understood Mr Clarke is cautious about prematurely celebrating the supermarket’s turnaround as he risks repeating his predecessor Andy Clarke’s mistake in saying the company was over the worst of its problems. Mr Clarke, who was ousted last year, infamously declared Asda had reached its nadir, only for the supermarket to disappoint once again with another drop in sales.
The expected improvement in sales comes on the back of Asda announcing plans last week to axe hundreds of jobs as part of a consultation, with the firm looking to change working hours at 18 of its supermarkets.