Walmart is looking to take advantage of a booming grocery market to restart efforts to sell a stake in its British supermarket arm.
A Walmart spokesman on Monday confirmed to Reuters that the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer has resumed sales talks with “a small number of third-party investors” interest in buying a stake in Asda.
“Walmart and Asda have restarted conversations with a small number of third-party investors who are interested in acquiring a stake in Asda and partnering with Walmart, following renewed inbound interest,” a spokesman for the retailer told the news service.
Walmart’s plans for its supermarket chain in the United Kingdom have fluctuated significantly over the past year since Asda was blocked in its bid to acquire rival Sainsbury’s by U.K. competition regulators.
Walmart responded by exploring whether to take Asda public, only to shelve that plan and shop a stake in the supermarket chain, a process that came to a grinding halt earlier this year with the onslaught of the coronavirus. The issue has been on hold since April.
While the virus has proven to be a business killer, devastating whole sectors like the airline industry, supermarket chains have benefited from an upsurge in sales as people have cut back on dining out in favor of making meals at home.
In its earlier discussions with potential investors, Walmart indicated it was interested in boosting Asda’s share of the grocery market in the U.K. Asda is currently the No. 3 grocer in the country, behind Tesco, which occupies the top perch, and Sainbury’s, which is in second place.
“We are currently considering whether there is an opportunity for a third party to invest in Asda, alongside Walmart, in order to support and accelerate the delivery of Asda’s strategy and position Asda for long term success,” Walmart and Asda said in February.