Asda intends to increase its presence in the online retail market in order to compete with Tesco and Sainsbury’s, a spokesperson for the UK unit of Wal-Mart told just-food yesterday (6 November). 

The move comes as the value of Internet sales in the UK soars. The Interactive Media Group has predicted that in the run up to Christmas GBP7bn (US$13.28bn) will be spent online, a 40% increase over last year. Additionally, last month the Office for National Statistics said the value of Internet sales increased by almost 30% to GBP21.4bn last year. Meanwhile, delivering its first half results Asda competitor Tesco recently said that profits at increased by 43.1% during the period, driven by an increase in sales of 28.7%.

Asda said that it intends to increase the number of stores offering an Internet delivery service from 91 to 157 by October next year. An Asda spokeswoman said that the move would give it coverage that was comparable to that of Sainsbury’s and Tesco. “Tesco and Sainsbury cover about 80% of the country at the moment. We will be roughly at the same level,” she said, adding that this will enable 100% of current Asda customers to shop from home.

Asda has been late among UK retailers to adopt Internet shopping as a means to boost sales and reach out to new customers. “We were slow to understand how big a market and how big a customer demand there was for dotcom,” Asda CEO Andy Bond told the Sunday Telegraph.  

Asda’s expanded online service will offer food, health and beauty products, bedding, lighting, domestic appliances and electrical goods, the company said.