Asda grows again after three-year slump

Asda logoImage copyright Getty Images

Asda Supermarket chain Asda has reported its first quarterly like-for-like sales growth for three years.

Sales rose 1.8% in the second quarter after a bumper Easter, Asda owner Walmart said.

The figures were boosted by a combination of price cuts, more customers and rising inflation.

Removing the benefit of Easter from the results, Asda's like-for-like sales were 0.7% higher.

Last year Asda reported its worst quarterly performance on record when sales tumbled by 7.5%.

Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said the world's biggest retail was "encouraged" by the UK result.

"In June, I visited Asda to see the progress being made.Customers are responding to investments in price and store experience by visiting the stores more often and increasing their basket sizes," he said.

"There's still much more to be done, but we're clearly headed in the right direction."

Analysis:Emma Simpson, BBC business correspondent

Is Asda finally on the road to recovery?It's been a painful few years.

They're not popping the champagne corks in Leeds just yet.

If you strip out the Easter effect, Asda's growth was 0.7% on a comparable basis to last year.

And it highlighted this figure in its financial update for good reason.Bosses want to dampen down expectations for the quarters to follow.

So how much of this figure is driven by inflation, which is giving a lift to all the supermarkets right now?

Well I'm told that 0.7% would still be positive even if you strip out the effects of inflation at Asda.

In other words there's finally some growth in shopper numbers and volumes coming through.

But Asda's growth is still way behind the other main players.This is a business that's still got a huge amount to do.

Asda is the third-largest UK supermarket chain behind Tesco and Sainsbury's, according to Kantar Worldpanel[1].

Chief executive Sean Clarke took over from Andy Clarke last summer.

His strategy to try to halt falling sales has involved focussing on lowering prices.

Asda said that its second quarter had seen "one of its most successful Easter trading periods on record", with total sales up 16%.

Mr Clarke said 275,000 new customers shopped at Asda in the second quarter, but added:"We know we need to continue to up our game to be in the best shape possible."

In the first quarter the chain suffered a 2.8% sales decline - its eleventh consecutive quarterly drop.

Meanwhile, Walmart reported lower quarterly margins after it cut prices and invested in expanding online sales.The retailer's shares were down 3% in pre-market trading in New York....


  1. ^ according to Kantar Worldpanel (

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Top Shop bosses out of fashion in Arcadia shake-up

People walk past Topshop, Oxford StreetImage copyright Getty Images

Top Shop is the jewel in the crown of billionaire Sir Philip Green's retail empire.

But with the chain losing its sheen amid tough competition there are fresh attempts to keep it ahead of the game.

In the latest shake-up at Sir Philip's parent company Arcadia, Top Shop's creative boss Kate Phelan is leaving, as is Top Man's Gordon Richardson.

Arcadia has announced that they will be replaced in a combined role by former Vogue art director David Hagglund.

In addition to this latest creative appointment, a new chief executive starts next month - Paul Price.

It signals a new era for Top Shop, once the go-to destination for young shoppers keen to snap up the very latest fashion trends on the High Street.

Profits at Arcadia, which also includes Miss Selfridge, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, plunged by 79% last year.

Tough competition in the clothing market - and the failure of the now-defunct BHS chain - contributed to the poor performance.

Ms Phelan moved to Top Shop from fashion magazine Vogue in 2011, and Mr Richardson has been at Top Man for 17 years.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sir Philip Green's retail empire includes Top Shop and Top Man

In Arcadia's statement, Sir Philip said:"The appointment of David Hagglund, in the newly combined role, continues to mark the start of a new era for Topshop Topman in moving both brands forward in their ongoing global expansion.

"I am delighted to welcome David who will be joining Paul Price, our new chief executive, on the same day and I look forward to working with them both to drive the business forward."

Top of their agenda will be Top Shop's future.Nimbler online rivals such as Boohoo and Misguided are eroding Top Shop's market share.They're cheaper, too.

Online retailer Boohoo saw profits double in April[1] thanks to new overseas markets.

And online fashion retailer Asos has also been eating Top Shop's cake, with sales jumping in its latest results[2].

We will have to wait and see whether Top Shop seeks to move upmarket, or tries to up its game in the fiercely competitive online world....


  1. ^ saw profits double in April (
  2. ^ latest results (

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Daily Stormer: Cloudflare drops neo-Nazi site


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption The Daily Stormer has been a source of significant controversy in recent days

A neo-Nazi site that disparaged a woman who died during protests in Charlottesville has faced another wave of rejection by web companies.

The Daily Stormer's account with Cloudflare - which protects websites from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks - has been terminated.

Cloudflare's chief executive Matthew Prince said he had "had enough", in a company email obtained by Gizmodo[1].

However, he added that he felt conflicted over the decision.

"Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn't be allowed on the internet," wrote Mr Prince.

"No-one should have that power."

On Sunday, the Daily Stormer published an article denigrating Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed after a car rammed into protesters against a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This led to a backlash in which the site had to switch domain name registrars twice in 24 hours, after GoDaddy and Google both removed it[2] from their services.

Cloudflare's service involves handling web users' requests to view a site and filtering out those that appear to be coming from systems set up to overload the site.

Without such protection, websites can sometimes be knocked offline.

Mr Prince said leaving the site open to DDoS attacks could lead to "vigilante justice", in a blog post[3] published later on Wednesday.

However, he also said:"Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion.

"The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology."

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionEXPLAINED:What is a DDoS attack?

Earlier in the week, the Daily Stormer was set up as a site on the dark web and later relocated its open web presence to a Russian domain name ending ".ru".

A spokesman for the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it had asked web firm Ru-Center to shut this down.

A BBC check on Thursday morning found that the .ru address no longer appeared to be working.

The Daily Stormer has faced frustration elsewhere in recent days.

Three Twitter accounts associated with the site that had previously been active were suddenly listed as "suspended" on Wednesday.

And cyber-security researcher Joseph Evers announced that he had stopped hosting[4] an internet chat channel he said was used by staff at the Daily Stormer.

Describing himself as having once been a "free speech absolutist", Mr Evers added:"I'm glad to do my small part in countering white supremacy."

Donations blocked

Besides the Daily Stormer's case, this week Paypal reiterated its stance on blocking donations to organisations that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance.

"This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups," the payment-processing firm said.

Internet companies were facing a "dilemma" over how to balance support for freedom of speech with a desire not to encourage hate groups, said Prof Eric Heinze, at Queen Mary, University of London.

"Had the Charlottesville events not occurred, the hate sites would still be operating from Cloudflare, GoDaddy, and other such venues," he told the BBC.

"Some might call it satisfactory to wait until actual harm occurs before closing such a site.But others will say that's too little and too late."...


  1. ^ company email obtained by Gizmodo (
  2. ^ GoDaddy and Google both removed it (
  3. ^ in a blog post (
  4. ^ announced that he had stopped hosting (

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UK retail sales growth continues in July

Supermarket shopperImage copyright Reuters

UK retail sales increased in July as stronger spending on food offset a fall in the purchase of other goods, according to official figures.

The volume of sales grew by 0.3% compared with June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The figure for June's retail sales growth was also revised down from 0.6% to 0.3%.

The gap between wages and inflation is continuing to widen, putting pressure on household spending.

Ole Black, ONS senior statistician, said it was a "relatively subdued picture" in retail sales".

"Strong food sales have been responsible for the growth of 0.3% in July compared with June, as all other main sectors have shown a decrease.Whilst the overall growth is the same as in June, trends in growth in different sectors are proving quite volatile," he said.

However, Ruth Gregory, UK economist at Capital Economics said the July figures were "fairly encouraging given the recent intensification of the squeeze on consumers' real incomes and suggest that talk of a sharp consumer slowdown has been overdone".

She said there had been few signs of a sharp slowdown in spending growth away from the high street.

"What's more, with annual retail sales values growth remaining at a still strong 4.1% in July, this suggests that consumers haven't been tightening their belts as a result of Brexit uncertainty," she said....

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Hyundai vows to produce longer-range electric car

Hyundai electric car at motor showImage copyright Getty Images

Korean carmaker Hyundai is wading further into the electric vehicle market, promising a car that can go 500km (311 miles) on each charge.

Hyundai already has an electric model on the market, but its range lags behind its competitors' models.

Along with its affiliate Kia, Hyundai is planning 31 eco-friendly models by 2020.

The latest move comes amid increasing competition in the market for ecologically-friendly cars.

Hyundai's environmentally-conscious new additions will include three plug-in hybrid vehicles, eight battery-powered cars and two fuel-cell vehicles.

The company also has plans to develop its first dedicated facility for pure electric vehicles, which will allow it to produce a variety of cars with longer driving ranges.

Its current electric model, the Ioniq, has a range of 280km, less than GM's Bolt or Tesla's Model 3, which both have ranges in excess of 350km.

Image copyright Getty Images

Automotive analyst Robin Zhu from Bernstein Research says Hyundai's new model would be competitive when it comes out after 2021, even though its high-end competitor Tesla will probably exceed its expected range by then.

"For econo-boxes that go from A to B, you need to be competitive, but as long as they offer the right product for the right value, the onus is not on Hyundai to do something groundbreaking," he said.

China leads the way

Hyundai's latest push into the electric market comes amid growing global competition for electric cars.

In addition to electric-only manufacturers such as Tesla and Faraday Future, major US, Japanese and European carmakers are now offering electric options.

According to the International Energy Agency, new registrations of electric cars hit a record in 2016, with more than 750,000 sales.

While electric cars have the highest market share in Norway, far more are sold in China.

China accounted for more than 40% of the electric cars sold last year, more than double the amount sold in the United States.

The consultancy McKinsey said Chinese manufacturers produced 43% of the 873,000 electric vehicles built worldwide in 2016.

Robin Zhu said the Chinese market is partly driven by generous government subsidies, and it's unlikely that Chinese manufacturers will continue to dominate over the long-term.

"Right now, VW's market share is almost 0%.But it's not going to be 0% when they pull up their socks and do it," he said....

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