Wal-Mart Set to Backslide to UK Number Three Ranking

07 June 2005

The gap between Tesco, number one in Britain's supermarket league, and the runners-up continues to widen with the leader now commanding nearly one third of the UK market.

The sole source of excitement at the top end of the league table is the pace at which Tesco continues to increase the clear blue water between itself and its rivals. For the foreseeable future, therefore, attention centres on the scrimmage for market share between the rest of the field.

Wal-Mart's Asda currently occupies number two position while former top-of-the-heap rooster J Sainsbury, languishes in third place. The latter, however, is fast gaining on its rival, as the table below indicates.

Share of UK Grocery Market
(Twelve weeks to April 24)

  1. Tesco 29.8%
  2. Wal-Mart / Asda 16.5%
  3. Sainsbury's 15.9%
  4. Morrisons / Safeway 12.2%
  5. Somerfield / Kwik Save 5.9%
  6. Co-ops 4.7%
  7. Waitrose 3.7%
  8. Aldi 2.2%
  9. Iceland 1.9%
  10. Lidl 1.8%
    Source: TNS Superpanel
Asda is aware it has a fight on its hands. Admitted new chief executive Andy Bond to the Financial Times: "[Sainsbury] could overtake us in the coming months. [It] does better in the summer in fresh foods while we tend to do better in the run-up to Christmas with non-food."

As to Tesco, Bond disassociated himself from the view of his predecessor Tony de Nunzio that overtaking Tesco would be "extremely difficult".

"I would never want to position my leadership as hamstrung, to be successful by what other people do to us. Our destiny is in our own hands," Bond said. He intends to cut costs, although coy as to how many job losses this might incur.

Improving customer service is also a priority: "We are disappointing some customers in stores every day, whether over availability, queues or pricing. These are areas where we need to raise our game."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff