City Talk: Morrisons delivers

Wm Morrison is pushing ahead on all fronts at a quicker rate than its rivals. In the first half (26 weeks ended 2 August 2009), the retailer revealed a 45% jump in pre-tax profit to £449m from £309m last year. Sales rose by 5% to £7.5bn - ahead of its rivals and fuelled by growth in its butchers' shops and bakeries. Stripping out £91m in pensions credit and property sales, pre-tax profit climbed 22% to £395m.

Morrisons expects slower growth in the second half, because food price inflation has fallen abruptly. The company, which has pulled in one million new shoppers in the past two years, will continue talking to suppliers to get them to pass on lower food prices to customers. Morrisons opened 22 new stores in the first half of the year and is still converting shops bought from the Co-op and Somerfield to its own format.

Morrisons is now considering a big roll-out of smaller stores - mini supermarkets that can sell more fresh produce than rival supermarket groups. There are 100 possible locations where Morrisons would like to fly its flag - it knows planning permission for big supermarkets is hard to obtain.


== right royal food deal ==

Waitrose has bought the exclusive rights to distribute and market the posh Duchy Originals food range, established by Prince Charles. Waitrose is to distribute and market the organic range in all its 214 British stores.

Duchy Originals had been hit, due to lack of cash for investment and a big fall in profits, which fell from £1.53m two years ago to £57,400 at the most recent count - and a loss is expected for the current trading period. Waitrose is to spend heavily on the brand and will increase the Duchy Originals range from 200 products to 500. Duchy Originals' profits will continue to go to The Prince's Charities Foundation.

Waitrose will also sell Duchy Originals products wholesale, but will allow only independent food stores and restaurants to stock and sell the brand.



== Greene King growth ==

Brewing and pub group Greene King's managed pubs kicked in with a 4.6% rise in underlying sales in the 17 weeks to 30 August, pushed ahead by robust food sales, up 8.1%. Its Belhaven pubs in Scotland enjoyed a 10.9% jump in sales. The group has 2,400 pubs in England and Scotland.

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