Union denounces new Asda owners following reports of logistics arm sale

The GMB union has slammed Asda following national media reports that its new owners would explore the sale of its logistics assets.

Walmart agreed terms for a £6.8 billion sale of a controlling stake in Asda to a consortium led by Lancashire-based brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa – the billionaire owners of petrol forecourt firm EG Group – and private equity firm TDR Capital, in October.

National media reports said that while the structure of any deal was yet to be finalised, it could include assets such as its 25 distribution centres.

Responding to the reports Roger Jenkins, GMB National Officer, said: “This plan is nothing more than asset stripping. Private equity sharks are shaping up to extract as much profit out of the business as they can up front – before they’ve even got their feet under the table.

“Telling our members this plan ‘will have no implications on colleagues’ is a fantasy designed to try and alleviate the deep anxiety this announcement is bound to cause.

“The Issa Brothers need to stop and think about the proud history and heritage of the profit-making supermarket they are seeking to acquire.”

The GMB said that Asda’s future owners had reportedly drafted in advisers to prepare for the sale of up to 25 distribution centres, including Heston, Dartford, Bristol, Washington, Wakefield, Didcot and Lutterworth, totalling 7 million sq ft of space.

On publishing its accounts at Companies House, where it revealed sales of £22.9 billion during 2019, Asda said that the acquisition by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital remained on track to complete in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approval. It said that under its new owners the business would invest over £1 billion in the next three years to further strengthen the customer proposition and supply chain.

Furthermore Asda said it would continue to invest in accelerating its omnichannel offer and in the resilience of its supply chain, including sourcing more food from UK farmers and maintaining its commitment to supporting domestic suppliers and small businesses.

Asda said it would not comment on speculation, adding that the sale is still subject to approval

Advisors to the Issa brothers said there was no comment as the acquisition of Asda had not yet completed so no final decisions had been taken.

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