LONDON - Britain's third largest supermarket group Asda, now owned by the Issa brothers and private equity group TDR, on Thursday reported a 5.1% rise in same store sales in its Christmas quarter, driven by strong demand for premium ranges. The outcome for the three months to Dec. 31 compared with a third quarter increase of 2.7%. All of Britain's major supermarkets performed strongly in the Christmas period, with coronavirus restrictions closing the hospitality sector and forcing many people to work from home. "Asda’s growth during the period was driven by a notable shift in shopping behaviour with customers trading up and spending more on premium categories at Christmas to treat themselves after a difficult year," it said. The trading period pre-dates the brothers and TDR completing the purchase of a majority holding in Asda from Walmart on Tuesday in a deal giving it an enterprise value of 6.8 billion pounds ($9.5 billion). The deal still requires regulatory approval with the parties subject to an enforcement order from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to ensure Asda continues to operate independently from its buyers while it conducts its probe. The CMA has set a April 20 deadline for a ruling. The brothers and TDR have said they "remain confident" of a positive outcome. REUTERS
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