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Smaller stores to expand Asda chain

Supermarket chain Asda is to open three smaller stores around the UK before the end of March.

They are part of plans by the Wal-Mart-owned firm to broaden the business and bring it closer to communities.

The chain wants to add 10 smaller-format shops across the country this year, creating up to 6,000 jobs.

Asda reported a 6 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for 2009, with sales in the last three months up 4.6 per cent.

Growth was driven by an increase in customer numbers and higher average spend across the year and Asda said it had exceeded its forecasts for both profits and sales.

Asda currently has 371 stores across the UK.

The firm said the first three openings this year will be in Cumnock, Ayrshire, Kings Heath in the West Midlands and Tweedmouth, in Northumberland.