Morrisons beats rivals

Morrisons produced more robust sales figures today as the supermarket group continues to fight its corner against price-cutting rivals.

The Bradford-based chain, which boasts an 11.8 per cent share of the grocery market, said like-for-like sales were up 2.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to October 30 after attracting record numbers of customers to its stores in the period.

It said it continued to grow ahead of the market, but added that trading conditions were challenging and the outlook uncertain.

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The grocer, which has some 450 stores in the UK, has fared better than its main supermarket rivals in recent months because it sells relatively small amounts of non-food items, an area which has been hard-hit as consumers tighten their belts.

It has also benefited from longer opening hours and its ongoing expansion, which has seen more stores in southern England and the first trial convenience store, called M-Local.

Under new boss Dalton Philips, it has also launched a new range of M Kitchen ready meals with recipes created by chefs such as Bryn Williams, Nigel Haworth and Aldo Zilli. Former England all-rounder Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff stars in a new range of adverts.

It is up against an ongoing supermarket price war, driven by Tesco’s £500m Big Price Drop campaign on 3,000 staple items. Sainsbury’s has also rolled out its Brand Match scheme while Asda has been offering customers £5 off their next shop when they spend £40.

Seymour Pierce stockbrokers described today’s performance as robust and said the like-for-like sales figure was slightly better than its 2.2 per cent forecast. Morrisons reported a figure of 1.9 per cent in the previous quarter.