Asda UK is a UK supermarket chain, retailing food, clothing, and much more.

Asda UK

Asda UK is one of the UK's main supermarket chains, retailing food, clothing, toys and general merchandise. Asda UK also provides services like ASDA mobile, a mobile telephone network.

Asda UK became a subsidiary of the American company Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, in 1999. Asda is the second largest chain in the UK after Tesco. It overtook Sainsbury's in 2003.

As it is owned by Wal-Mart, Asda UK is not required to declare quarterly or half-yearly earnings. But every October Asda submits full accounts to Companies House in the UK. The headquarters of Asda UK is based in Asda House, Leeds.

The name Asda is very popular across the world, ranging from a popular Thai first name, to a multiplayer role-player game. In acronym form ASDA stands for American Sleep Disorders Association, Australian Soft Drinks Association, and many other things! In this article we disambiguate away from the foreign acronyms by referring to Asda UK, which immediately gets us away from American and Australian connotations! Asda UK is, as you will read below, almost an acronym. In Asda literature the capitalisation (ASDA) is usually dropped, apart from major headings. So we will adopt that style here.

History of Asda UK

Asda Stores Ltd was founded as Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Limited in Leeds in 1949. The Asda name was adopted in 1965 when the Asquith chain  supermarkets and Associated Dairies merged. Asda is an abbreviation of Asquith and Dairies. In the 1980s Asda Stores Ltd became a subsidiary of Asda-MFI plc, following a company merger between Asda UK,  the furniture retailer MFI, and Allied Carpets. After selling MFI and Allied Carpets Asda UK became the Asda Group plc. The Associated Dairies sub-company was sold, so Asda UK lost connection with one of the firms from which its name derives.

Initially Asda UK stores were mainly founded in the North of England, but it expanded south in 1989 by buying Gateway Superstores. But Asda UK now found itself in deep trouble through trying to sell too many different products. In the 1990s it revived under its new CEO Archie Norman, who copied the Wal-Mart model. He sent his protégé Allan Leighton to Bentonville, Arkansas to fully investigate Wal-Mart systems and marketing.

Norman left the company to pursue a political career, and was replaced by Leighton. Asda UK, now owning 230 stores, was purchased by Wal-Mart in 1999 for £6.7 billion. Asda UK maintained its headquarters at the newly opened "Asda House", one of the first office blocks to open as part of the redevelopment south of the River Aire in the Holbeck district of Leeds city centre.

In 2005 Asda UK expanded into Northern Ireland by purchasing 12 Safeway stores from Morrisons.

ASDA UK Marketing

Asda UK marketing campaigns tend to centre around promtiong ASDA as value for money. In the "Asda price" campaign, customers tapped their trouser pockets, 'chinking' the coins that Asda's low prices have left in them. The "tappers" were glammed up with the introduction of celebrities like Julie Walters, Michael Owen, Leonard Rossite,  Hattie Jacques and Sharon Osbourne. 

In the late 1980s Asda UK advertising featured the Fairground Attraction song Perfect, which was indeed perfect for Asda, with its line, "it's gotta be worth it". In 2004,  was selected to be part of a new marketing campaign by Asda; her last advert was aired in August 2005.

The focus of Asda UK advertising campaigns is to portray Asda as the most affordable supermarket in the UK. New cut price supermarkets, like Aldo and Lidl, challenged this claim.

In 2007 Asda's advertising campaign featured down-to-earth celebrities like Victoria Wood also revamped the "That's Asda price" slogan. Since then, Asda has continued top include slogans stressing its value for money, with the "Why Pay More?" campaign becoming prominent. Current Asda UK commercials use price comparisons between Asda and its rivals, using information from "MySupermarket", backed by the Dad's Army theme tune.

Asda UK has won the The Grocer magazine "Lowest Price Supermarket" Award for the past 12 years. In 2005 Tesco complained about Asda's "cheapest supermarket" claims to the Advertising Standards Agency, who upheld the complaint and ordered Asda to stop using such claims. The Asda said that The Grocer magazine survey was based on limited and unrepresentative evidence as it used just 33 products, and did not study low-cost supermarkets like Aldi, or even Morrison's. So Asda no longer calls itself "Officially Britain's lowest priced supermarket", uses the slogan "Winner: Britain's lowest price supermarket award" in its advertising.

Corporate social responsibility

Asda has signed the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) which demands workers' rights for freedom of association and a living wage, but groups like Labour Behind the Label and War on Want have argued that Asda UK and other budget retailers use unethical labour practices in the developing world to keep UK prices low. The National Farmers' Union has argued that Asda UK and other supermarkets have been "squeezing suppliers' margins", and  many have gone out of business".

Asda Smart Price

Asda Smart Price is a trade name used by Asda UK for its budget goods. It is equivalent to Tesco Value, Sainsbury's Basics and Morrison's Value. Asda Smart Price products are usually the lowest price option in a product category found in Asda stores. Clothing at Asda is covered by the George Smart Price brand. 

George at Asda UK

Asda Uk ha sits own clothing range - George at ASDA - created in 1990. This is marketed as quality fashion at affordable prices. Wal-Mart sells the George brand in the United States, Canada and Japan The label is named after its originator George Davies founder of Next. George is estimated to be the fourth largest retailer of clothing in the United Kingdom, after Marks & Spencer, the Arcadia Group and Next. George at Asda wedding dresses initially cost just £60.

Asda UK Stores

Asda UK has maintained a "simple and fresh" store decor, white and green, with a simple layout. An average Asda store is bigger than its rivals, but stocks fewer lines -  piled high and sold cheap. Asda UK has decided not to compete with Tesco and Sainsbury's  small, local  stores. In 2006, Asda launched a few Asda Essentials stores to compete in this market, but quickly phased them out.

Twenty five Asda Wal-Mart Supercentres have opened, creating some of the largest hypermarkets in the UK. The first Supercentre opened in Livingston, Scotland in June 2000. The Milton Keynes store is the largest Asda Wal-Mart Supercentre. But there are many more standard Asda Supermarkets in the UK, 346 to be precuise..

In 2003 Asda UK launched its first 'Asda Living', a  "general merchandise" store, containing the full gamut of non-food ranges - clothing, home electronics, toys, homewares, health, beauty products, etc. The Compass Group operate the coffee shop Caffe Ritazza within some of these stores. The first Asda Living store opened in Walsall, West Midlands, quickly followed by ten further stores in the UK.

In 2004, a number of standalone George clothing stores appeared on the high street. But they were closed in  2008 due to high rental costs and low profitability.

Asda UK -  Other interests

In 2008 Wal-Mart sold Gazeley Limited Group, the property development subsidiary of Asda, to Economic Zones World (EZW), a Dubai World company. Gazeley is involved in the development of distribution warehousing in the UK, Europe, China, India and Mexico.

Asda UK Financial Services

Asda Finance simply attaches the Asda brand to products provided by other companies, including  insurance ( Norwich Union), credit cards (Santander) and loans (Funding Corporation). Asda UK's Financial Services division does not directly sell these services in store. Telephone or online/postal application is necessary.

Asda UK Loyalty card

Asda UK do not run a loyalty card scheme, they prefer to drive down prices.

Internet operations

Asda UK launched its online retail service in 1998. But sales were lower than expected. It has had more success recently, adding non-food online retailing to its grocery delivery operation. The success of these operations led to Asda stepping up its commitment to home shopping and employing thousands of new staff. Asda now competes well with Tesco Direct.

Financial performance

In  March 2009 Tesco had a 30.4% share of the UK grocery market, Asda 17.5%, Sainsbury's at 16.1%, and Morrisons 11.8%.

Employee relations at Asda UK

Asda UK has 150,000 employees ("colleagues") - 90,000 part-time, 60,000 full-time. Asda UK gained second place in The Times newspaper "Best companies to work for" list for 2005.


Asda. (2010, March 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.