Asda prepares for new stores battle

Asda has called in Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster to smooth the way for an aggressive store opening programme amid stiff competition from a resurgent Sainsbury’s.

Asda hopes to launch more new stores in 2006 than the 40 opened last year. But with planning permission still pending on many sites, numbers cannot be confirmed.

The programme includes the March opening of a pilot mini-store in Northampton, stocking 95 per cent own-brand products. Analysts predict it will be the precursor to convenience stores to compete with Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local.

Biss Lancaster is tasked with engaging communities and managing competitor impact when rival stores open nearby. Last month
Asda CEO Andy Bond admitted Sainsbury's might regain its status as Britain's second supermarket in 2006.

Biss Lancaster won the account after a five-way pitch and reports to Asda head of PR Nick Agarwal and PR manager Sian Horner. It will be serviced from its Manchester and Edinburgh offices. Asda retains Lee Publicity, Brian Morrel PR and Fishburn Hedges for product, fashion and financial services respectively.

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