Andy Bond, CEO at Asda, said the government must promote competition during the recession to stimulate the economy.

He said: 'We are ready and willing to invest in dozens of deprived areas up and down the country, places that would benefit from our low prices, and investment into their local economies. But the planning system works against us.

'That’s why I'd urge the government to push ahead with their planning reforms and introduce a competition test that would widen the choice of supermarkets available to consumers and create thousands of much needed jobs.'

He said rebuilding consumer confidence is key in the current economic climate.

'Despite the gloomy headlines there are still millions of people willing to spend their hard-earned cash and get Britain on the road to recovery,' said Bond.

Bond made the remarks yesterday at the same time ASDA revealed its fourth quarter results which showed its like for like sales growth was 7.2% up from 6.9% in the third quarter.

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