The UK’s third-largest supermarket chain Asda, owned by US retailing giant Wal-Mart, has revealed that it will create at least a further 10,000 jobs in 2002, to satff new stores and improve customer service.

Throughout the course of 2001, the chain employed 16,000 extra staff members, over three times the number anticipated at the beginning of the year.

The company has also highlighted figures collated by market analyst Taylor Nelson Sofres, which show that Asda achieved a 16% share of all money spent on food and non-food items in multiple grocers during the 12 weeks to 6 January 2002.

The supermarket sector as a whole grew by half that figure, 8%, during the same Christmas and New Year period.

Tony DeNunzio, Asda’s COO, commented: “Over the holiday period we achieved the lowest prices, shortest queues, and the products available when our customers wanted them. This result is a tribute to the hard work of all our people. It really is our colleagues who make the difference.”

During 2001 as a whole, Asda claims that footfall in its stores increased by one million new customers, driven by the chain’s continuing trend of driving down prices and widened the price gap over competitors to more than 12%. By the end of the year, the company recorded 8.6m shoppers each week.

This January, the company revealed that it has invested £50m (US$71.7m) in lower prices.