Asda, the UK's second-largest grocer, has said it will create 12,000 jobs in the country in the next five years.

Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Asda parent Wal-Mart, said the company was reacting to significant change in the retail market.

"A seismic shift in the structure of the retail market is underway – not just in the UK – but right across the world. Asda recognised the change in its market and took early action to develop and implement a strategy that will see it grow – creating more new jobs and bringing real value to more customers in the UK," McMillon said.

The announcement on jobs follows Asda's move in November to outline is "strategic priorities" for the next five years.

Asda claimed it would spend GBP1bn (US$1.61bn) on lowering prices in a bid to "widen the gap" with its big three rivals, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons.

The retailer also said it would invest spend GBP250m on "quality, style and design" across its product portfolio and expand further in parts of the UK where its market share is low, particularly London and the South East. It also plans more investment online, with a target of 1,000 click-and-collect points in the next five years.

It explained the moves would be funded "through savings generated by Asda's continuing 'We Operate For Less' programme, as well as through the global leveraging power it has with parent Wal-Mart".