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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 09:29 GMT
Asda plans to create 9,000 jobs
Front of Asda store
Asda is looking to close the gap on its larger rivals
Supermarket firm Asda is to embark on large-scale expansion plans this year and will create 9,000 new jobs and open 22 stores, its chief executive says.

Asda boss Andy Bond told the BBC the company planned to create jobs on the shop floor, in the pharmaceutical sector and its home delivery service.

Some 500 jobs are to be at new in-store pharmacies, while 1,500 are part of moves to extend its home delivery arm.

A day earlier, Asda's parent firm Wal-Mart said annual profits rose 8.6%.

The first of Asda's new stores is due to open in Andover, Hampshire, in March. Other locations targeted during 2008 include Dalgety Bay in Scotland and Bridgend in Mid-Glamorgan.

Store extensions are planned in Chapeltown, Elgin, Hulme, Kirkcaldy, Boldon, Govan, Portsmouth, Donnington Wood, Hyson Green, Chatham, Luton and Gosport.

Wal-Mart bosses said Asda - which has its UK headquarters in Leeds - was doing well but would give no detail beyond saying like-for-like sales rose by "mid single digits".

Mr Bond dismissed the idea that the UK was heading for a recession and added that Asda's priority was to keep prices down.

The news comes after the Competition Commission released a report last week with suggestions on how to counter problems it perceived in the UK's grocery sector.

These included a tougher code of practice over how supermarkets deal with suppliers, and recommendations that local governments perform a "competition test" when deciding whether to give planning permission for new large supermarkets.



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