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Morrison races ahead

Published:  12 March, 2009

Morrison march up the retailing ladder continues with like-for-like sales up 7.9%, well ahead of its rivals, and total sales up 12% to £14.5 billion for the year to the end of February.

Only Asda is expected to return sales growth of around 7% with analysts predicting lukewarm year-end results from Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Morrison's chief executive, Marc Bolland. said the group was attracting customers from all its rivals and across all social groups as it continued to bring in new customers to the store for the first time. Much of its growth is also coming from branded sales and promotions. "We believe the consumer really goes for brands at a strong price," he said.

Morrison's underlying pre-tax profits, excluding property sales, were up 13% to £636m. He also confirmed the chain's ambition to build more stores and become a nationwide business with 40% of UK households now within a 15 minute drive of Morrison's store.

It is on course to beat its target of adding 1m sq ft of new store space in the three years to January 2010. The 38 stores from the Co-op, following its purchase of Somerfield, would add an extra 500,000 sq ft. It now aimed to open a further 500,000 sq ft of extra space in the 2011 financial year.