Asda, the UK’s second-largest retailer, said today (17 May) its underlying sales growth accelerated in the first quarter of its financial year.

The company reported a 2.2% increase in like-for-like sales, excluding VAT and fuel, for the 12 weeks to the end of March.

The result compared to the 1% increase in the final quarter of Asda’s last financial year, which comprised the 14 weeks to 7 January.

CEO and president Andy Clarke said Asda had built on its “end-of-year momentum” and recorded “market-leading growth”.

Total first-quarter sales were up 7.1%, Asda said. Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s international arm, said Asda had put in a “strong” first quarter. He noted operating income grew “faster than sales, excluding fuel”.

McMillon added: “Traffic in the quarter increased by 2.9%, and average ticket also increased by 2.1%. In addition, our online business in the UK maintained its strong performance, with sales growth of 19.2% in the quarter. With customers trusting every day low prices, we carried the momentum gained over Christmas into the first quarter. The Asda price guarantee attracted more than 500,000 online checks per week in the first quarter.”