Asda has announced a 3.9% fall in like-for-like sales in its first quarter, in what it describes at the “most challenging year yet” for UK supermarkets.

In the period for the 15 weeks to 19 April, the retailer revealed its third consecutive quarter of decline. 

Despite this, chief executive Andy Clarke said the retailer would remain committed to the five-year strategy set out for the Big-Four supermarket.

He also previewed the ‘intelligent click and collect pod’ to be launched by the company.

Clarke said: “This last quarter has been unprecedented. We have seen deflation in the market and exponential shifts in the industry. Although I still believe that, 18 months ago, we did a great job of predicting changes, we could not have foreseen what has happened to others and the moves they have had to make in order to restore their business – creating an impact on us in the short-term.

“Whilst I take no pride in reporting a negative number, we are in a period of expected turbulence, not distress. We won’t buy short-term sales at the expense of long-term profitability. Throughout this period of change in our sector, Asda has been first to market with its response.

“Fundamentally, Asda remains a balanced, healthy sustainable business with a clear direction, allowing us to hold our nerve and remain focused on delivering for our customers.”