Morrisons unveils strong start

Morrisons, the supermarket retailer, this morning said it had made a “strong start” to the new financial year – and revealed a 2.5% increase in like-for-like sales.

The group said its first quarter total sales were up by 4.2% – or by 7.3% including fuel – and added that sales had been boosted by its “unique fresh and quality offer”.

It said: “Our ‘Biggest Ever Price Crunch’ promotion at the start of the year and our ‘Fuel Britannia’ and ‘Let’s Celebrate’ campaigns for Easter and the Royal Wedding have attracted record numbers of customers into our stores.

“We remain focused on managing our costs tightly and generating profitable growth through the delivery of the operating and strategic initiatives that we outlined in March. These are all on track.”

However, it warned: “As anticipated, the economic backdrop remains challenging. The high price of oil, together with increases in other commodity prices, has further compounded the existing pressures on consumers’ disposable incomes.”

In March, the group announced a programme to retire £1bn of equity over the next two years. To date it said that it has acquired 24.7m shares at a total investment of £68.7m.

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