Asda's quarterly sales rise 2.7% on strong e-commerce

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the UK supermarket Asda, as the store launches a new sustainability strategy, in Leeds, Britain, October 19, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington

LONDON (Reuters) - British supermarket Asda WMT.N said on Tuesday its third quarter comparable sales rose 2.7% year-on-year, reflecting strong growth in groceries, particularly online.

The outcome compared to growth of 3.8% in the previous quarter.

Asda, Britain's third-largest supermarket group after market leader Tesco TSCO.L and Sainsbury's SBRY.L, said net sales online in the quarter to Sept 30 soared 72%.

It said operating income increased, reflecting an improved gross profit rate and a decrease in the operating expense rate.

Asda is currently owned by U.S. giant Walmart WMT.N.

However, last month the Issa brothers and private equity group TDR Capital agreed to buy a majority holding in Asda in a deal giving it an enterprise value of $8.8 billion.

The deal, which will see Walmart retain a minority stake, requires regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

While Asda did see solid growth in the quarter, recent industry data has shown it to be a laggard compared with its major UK rivals, partly reflecting Asda’s lack of a local convenience store offer - a format that has proved popular with consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison