Asda reviews roster as it expands across all formats

Asda, the UK’s second largest supermarket group, is reviewing its store design roster as the Wal-Mart-owned chain embarks on its most aggressive expansion strategy for five years.

The retailer’s existing roster contains four consultancies, although Asda’s head of store design Brian Rutherford declines to reveal names. Additional consultancies are likely to be brought in to expand the roster, as Asda ramps up its store openings and moves to launch additional store formats, including its smaller, discount-led Asda Essentials store. Rutherford is overseeing the roster review and expects to complete the process within the next six weeks. The design focus of the roster will initially be on Asda’s supermarkets, but there could be opportunities for consultancies to work up designs across Asda’s burgeoning portfolio of variant store formats, including its non-food offer Asda Living.

The rostered consultancies will work alongside Asda’s in-house design team, which is overseen by design manager Tim Lamper. Rutherford stresses that the roster review is part of an ongoing process. ‘We look at the marketplace and review the design roster accordingly,’ he states.

Asda aims to open a ‘minimum’ of 25 stores this year, trialling at least three Asda Essentials sites. It will also open 15 Asda Living stores by the end of the year and hopes to roll out the non-food format across the UK, which could potentially lead to a rapid expansion in this area.

Non-food, one-stop shopping destinations are growing in popularity. Sales of entertainment products and clothing at supermarkets have nearly doubled over the past five years, according to the latest findings from market research company TNS.

The expansion plan comes as Asda seeks to recover from a difficult trading year and recapture market share from rivals such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Asda saw its market share fall from 17 per cent at the beginning of 2005 to 16.4 per cent at the end of last month.

Asda chief executive Andy Bond expects it will take 18 months to two years to revive the company, according to reports.

ASDA EXPANSION PLAN:

• Store design roster review, overseen by Brian Rutherford, head of store design

• Asda portfolio includes George stores, discount Asda Essentials and non-food offer Asda Living

• Reinvigoration strategy, including store expansion programme, now in motion

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