Timeline: Walmart and Asda
One of Walmart’s acquisitions, the UK’s Asda carries on under its own banner, 18 years after joining the Walmart family. Both brands grew from humble origins, but how have they evolved – together and apart – over the years?
1950 Beginning life as Walton’s, the dime store owned by Sam Walton was the foundation upon which an empire would be built. Walton’s first venture into retail inspired him to open further stores and eventually, to provide Walmart with consistent leadership for the next 31 years.
1962 Walton opens the first Walmart store in 1962, soon to be one of 24 stores owned by the Walton family.
1964 The first proper Walmart brand is put in place with a western-style typeface and mid-word hyphen.
1968 In 1970, Walmart floats on the NYSE. Over the next few years, Walton learns the art of the shareholder meeting as he adds a post-meeting picnic that becomes increasingly popular over the next decade. The western look carries on through 1981.
1981 A new brand heralds in a decade of change as the company opens Sam’s Club – the cash and carry chain for business-owners – the Walton Family Foundation and reaches £1bn in sales. Walton himself steps down as CEO, but retains his role as chairman. The first Walmart Supercenter opens in Missouri. The company soon becomes the most profitable retailer in the US as it expands nationwide.
1992 Walton dies in April, having received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush in March. In its branding, the hyphen in the Walmart logo gets replaced with a star, an insignia still used occasionally today. It is supplemented by Walmart Supercenter marks that were introduced in stores from 1988. The company purchases Asda in 1999, Canada’s Woolco in 1994 and opens in China in 1996.
2008 With a corporate rebrand, Walmart unites all of its stores under the same banner, one which removes the hyphen and turns the star into a spark icon. It introduces the ‘Save money, live better’ slogan in 2007.
1949 Derived from the amalgamation of the Stockdale family’s dairy stores and the Asquith family’s butcher’s shops, the Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Ltd is born.
1965 The first use of the word ‘Asda’ appears in 1965 when the group bought a former theatre called the Queens. At the time, Queens was an independent member of the Associated Dairies group. But Peter Asquith worked with Noel Stockdale to form a long-lasting partnership. The pair combined the ‘AS’ from Asquith and the ‘DA’ from Dairies and thus, Asda was born.
1968 With the acquisition of an American discount retailer’s two UK stores, Asda began to sell merchandise, as well as meats and dairy products. In one of the new stores, Asda opened the UK’s original discount petrol station. The logo drops the ‘Queens’ and its crown but adopts the blocky sans serif type recognisable today.
1970 Asda goes all in on its investment in superstores, by adding the word to its logo, in addition to a wave graphic that would carry through to 1985. Asda expands, eventually opening 80 stores by 1980.
1981 The most complex of Asda’s logos, an orange and blue wordmark, is complete with wave graphic and rhombus shape. It persists for half of the 1980s and presides over the introduction of own-brand products.
1985 By 1985, Asda is of big enough stature in the UK to have its Leeds headquarters opened by Margaret Thatcher. This era is also the first to use the pale green block sans serif, all caps logo that persists today. In 1989, British fashion designer George Davies launches the still-popular George brand of clothing, making Asda the first supermarket to have its own clothing brand.
1994 The logo is recoloured as Asda experiences a period of decline, preceding its eventual sale to Walmart.
1999 Walmart purchases Asda for £6.7bn. Though Asda still trades under its original name, its layout has shifted to reflect Walmart’s style.
2002 Asda drops the drop shadow for the first time since 1985.
2015 For the first time, Asda’s branding reflects its corporate ownership as Walmart’s trademark spark icon is added above the ‘A’ in the corporate logo. Walmart’s ‘Save money, live better’ slogan was also adopted by Asda.