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Potential bedfellows trade places in supermarket war

Asda has overtaken Sainsbury’s to become the UK’s second-largest supermarket, according to new figures from Kantar.

Asda’s sales climbed 0.1 percent in the 12 weeks to March 24, taking its market share to 15.4 percent. At the same time, Sainsbury’s sales dropped 1.8 percent, meaning its market share dropped to 15.3 percent. It’s a significant swing between the two supermarket giants who are currently struggling to persuade the UK competition watchdog to grant their proposed £12 billion merger. 

Earlier last month, both tried to keep the deal alive by suggesting they would be prepared to offload as many as 150 supermarkets between them.

The two heavyweights said cutting the branches – plus a number of convenience stores and petrol stations, was a “proportionate and effective” response to “extensive concerns” from the Competition and Markets Authority, that the mega-merger would lead to higher prices. The Kantar research, meanwhile, showed that discounters Aldi and Lidl continue to grow, with both expanding their market share to 8 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.

“Thirteen million households visited Aldi at least once in the past 12 weeks – now more than those shopping at Morrisons,” said Fraser McKevitt, consumer head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. “Obviously that doesn’t translate into market share terms because typically people spend less per item when they go into Aldi…that’s the nature of it being a discounter. 

According to data, Tesco’s sales rose 0.5 percent in the period and it remains the clear market leader with a share of 27.4 percent. Sainsbury’s was the worst performer of all the big four supermarkets. Its results meant its performance lagged behind smaller rivals such as Co-op and Iceland.

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