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LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Asda, the British supermarket arm of U.S. retail giant Walmart, said underlying sales dipped in its latest quarter, reflecting the later timing of Easter this year.
The group, whose attempt to be taken over by rival Sainsbury's was blocked by Britain's regulator last month, said on Thursday its like-for-like sales fell 1.1% in the three months to March 31, its fiscal first quarter. That compares with a rise of 1% in the previous quarter and ends a run of seven straight quarters of growth.
Asda said that with an adjustment for the later Easter versus 2018, it delivered 0.5% like-for-like sales growth excluding petrol over the quarter.
Against a challenging backdrop in the UK, Asda comp sales declined with the Easter flip, but transactions were positive as customer experience continued to improve, " said Walmart's Chief Financial Officer, Brett Biggs.
"The Asda team is making progress on key strategic priorities," he said, highlighting improved price competitiveness and increased sales of its own-brand products.
Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked Sainsbury's 7.3 billion pound ($9.4 billion) takeover of Asda, a combination which could have surpassed market leader Tesco , saying the deal would raise prices.
With one potential exit route for Walmart from the UK thwarted the group said on Tuesday it was "seriously considering" a path to a public listing for Asda, though it cautioned that any preparations for an IPO would "take years". ($1 = 0.7803 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey, editing by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle)