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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 12:23 GMT
Asda to take on 7,000 staff in UK
Asda store
Asda is the UK's second largest retailer
Supermarket group Asda is to take on 7,000 staff across the UK this year, owner Wal-Mart has said.

Asda needs the staff to work at the 25 new stores it plans to open, as well as to boost staffing levels at five sites it is pumping extra investment into.

The supermarket giant is putting money into expansion to win back market share from rivals such as Sainsbury's.

It also said it would be opening its first new format Asda Essentials discount store in Northampton in March.

Branching out

The cut-price Essentials chain will stock mainly Asda own brands.

Asda also is poised to make the most of a huge surge in non-food shopping at UK supermarkets as it prepares to open the doors of its first Asda Living non-food shop in Glasgow this spring.

That will be followed by the opening of two high street George fashion branches in Middlesbrough and Southend.

"Our 2006 store and investment programme further demonstrates our commitment to flexible formats, mixed use and re-generation schemes, enabling us to create an increasing number of jobs across the UK," said chief finance officer Judith McKenna.

In November, the group said it had decided to focus on "frontline" in-store staffing in an bid to boost its customer service.

Smaller slice

In July, Asda said it would be axing 1,400 middle managers and taking on 2,500 shop workers.

That announcement was followed in November with the news that it would be investing 10m on recruiting an extra 2,000 staff in the UK.

In recent months, while Asda has held on to the second-biggest slice of the UK supermarket sector, it has been losing market share to third-placed Sainsbury's.

News of the recruitment drive came hours ahead of annual results from Asda's parent company Wal-Mart.

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