Asda has seen its sales drop amid an "incredibly challenging backdrop" during which it also saw its Sainsbury\u2019s merger plans with rival Sainsbury\u2019s scuppered by the CMA.\r\n\r\nAsda said the decline, which ends its record of seven consecutive quarters of growth, arose due to the later timing of the busy Easter trading period this year. The \u2018Big Four\u2019 grocer revealed its like-for-like sales fell 1.1% in the three months to March 31, compared with a rise of 1% in the previous quarter.\r\n\r\nHowever, it added that with an adjustment for the later Easter versus 2018, it would have delivered a 0.5% like-for-like sales growth excluding petrol. Asda said its Asda.com and George.com sites also performed well with online sales rising by 10%.\r\n\r\nAsda CEO and president, Roger Burnley, said: \u201cThroughout the quarter we have maintained our focus and momentum, against an increasingly challenging backdrop and we remain entirely focussed on delivering our strategy, without the benefits the proposed merger with Sainsbury\u2019s would have delivered.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur strategy remains as it always has been \u2013 winning on price for customers, whilst delivering a consistent customer experience and investing in driving growth where customers care. Throughout the quarter we have continued to grow our online food and George businesses, as well as remove 6500 tonnes of plastic from our operations. We continue to consult with our colleagues on proposals to increase their base rate of pay, whilst ensuring we have the right people in the right place at the right time for customers. \u201c\r\n\r\nHe added: \u201cBut what has got us here, won\u2019t get us where we need to go \u2013 with the rate of change accelerating, we have a tough job to do and need to go even faster, and be even more innovative in the solutions we deliver for our customers. We cannot be complacent, but I believe that we have the right plan and some amazing colleagues to deliver in this highly competitive market \u2013 and I\u2019d like to thank them all for their hard work.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe results come in the week Burnley, along with his leadership team, gathered 1200 senior managers in Leeds to galvanise focus for delivering on the long-term strategy and driving sustained momentum within a changeable market. During the event, Asda\u2019s managers were told by Walmart chief executive Judith McKenna that a public listing is being considered, however she added that the process \u201ccould take years\u201d.