Is Walmart In The Uk Or London? (Yes, But Not What You Think)
Mega-retailer Walmart operates over 11,000 locations all around the globe, employing millions of people and serving hundreds of millions every day.
It might seem natural, then, that shoppers in London and the UK can just pop into their local Walmart and pick up whatever they need, right?
Walmart Will Be In The UK, Or London By 2022
Walmart has an equity stake in Asda’s grocery chain in the UK. Asda was originally purchased by Walmart in 1999. The company’s name was retained and it marked Walmart’s entrance into the UK Market. Walmart retained its seat on the Board and an equity stake in Asda. The majority-stake deal was completed by the Issa brother’s in 2021.
How did Walmart become a British company?
Asda, a UK-based supermarket chain, has been well-known since its opening in West Yorkshire in the 1920s.
It started out as a butcher’s shop. The offerings expanded and eventually the company became a network of discount-price grocery stores.
In the 60s and the 70s, the chain expanded to the south. It eventually reached London in 1982.
Asda went bankrupt in the early 90s. There were even rumors of a merger.
In June 1999 it was announced that Walmart had placed a $10.8 billion bid to acquire Asda , a move which immediately struck fear into the hearts of UK retailers.
Asda had just dissolved talks with Kingfisher plc, and both Asda and Walmart had vehemently denied their intention to team up in the months prior.
However, it doesn’t appear like the merger could have been anything but a surprise.
Asda began opening bigger stores called “Supercentres”, after the Walmart model. However, Asda maintained a focus on low prices.
Walmart wouldn’t be surprised to see the Asda store with admiration.
The acquisition looked like it was the beginning of Walmart’s European dominance at the time.
However, after not launching particularly well in Germany under the Walmart brand, it seems that Walmart has decided to look elsewhere for expansion.
This context explains why the Issa brothers/EG Group boughtout the UK market. They had established a foothold in the UK with Asda for 20 years.
What is the Difference Between ASDA and Walmart?
Quora user Quora posted a very reasonable explanation about why Asda stores were not converted to Walmart stores back 1999.
He believes that this smart move was made by Walmart in order to avoid alienating UK customers with its American-style retail approach (which Walmart represents).
Walmart might instead quietly make a profit of the Asda brand trust and loyalty UK shoppers have shown since the beginning of the 20th Century.
You may not know this, but I am always upset when the layout of my grocery shop changes.
Asda shoppers were used to the disruptions of complete rebrandings and total destruction of store layouts, it would have been extremely disruptive.
And that’s just the emotional toll.
Practically speaking, you can imagine the cost to Walmart. Asda actually has hundreds of outlets across the UK.
Is Asda and Walmart Similar?
As I already mentioned, Walmart has enough similarities to make its initial acquisition attractive.
Business Insider had some fun with their reporting and visited both Asda’s and Walmart.
A typical Asda or Walmart will have produce aisles near the front.
Individually, meats/butchers, seafood, bakeries, etc., are divided and placed at the back, along with the sides, of the shops, or leading back.
Asda also stocks a large selection of readymade meals.
Walmart, appealing to American shoppers who love convenience, does much the same, usually with an island cooler near the deli, where you can find heat-and-eat meals in plastic containers.
Final conclusion: While the formats and variety of food were very similar, Asda has more to do with grocery shopping and Walmart has more to do with “everything”.
Walmart Acquired ASDA from Whom?
Walmart remains technically in the UK thanks to their minor stake in Asda. But the Issa brothers are billionaires and the owners of the EG Group.
To learn more about Walmart’s expansion into other countries, you can see our related posts on if Walmart has stores in Japan, if Walmart is in India, and if Walmart is coming to New Zealand.
Walmart’s UK/London presence has been diminished following the Asda acquisition by the Issa brother.
But for over 20 years Walmart did operate the Asda supermarket chain in London and the UK as part of their network of international holdings.
Walmart may be shifting its attention to Asian markets after the Asda business was sold.
.Is Walmart In The Uk Or London? (Yes, But Not What You Think)