Belfast Telegraph

Spell-binding Halloween helps Morrisons ring up full year of sales growth

Morrisons has totted up a full year of sales growth, with its "biggest ever" Halloween helping cement the supermarket's turnaround.

The grocery giant said like-for-like sales in the third quarter rose 1.6%, with Halloween turnover up around 20%.

The figures represent a fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth amid a turnaround plan under chief executive David Potts, who took the helm last year following the removal of former boss Dalton Philips.

Mr Potts said: "Our like-for-like sales have now been positive for a year, which is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the whole Morrisons team.

"There is a lot more we plan to do. We will keep investing in becoming more competitive and improving the shopping trip, and I am confident we will serve our customers even better during the important trading period ahead."

Morrisons flagged that food prices continued to fall during the quarter, with deflation of 1%.

All of the so-called big four supermarkets - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - have been cutting prices in a bid to better compete with German discounters Aldi and Lidl, who have eroded their market share.

Total sales in the quarter were down 1.2%, reflecting supermarket closures and the sale of the M Local convenience store chain.

Last week, Morrisons hit the headlines after it jacked up the price of Marmite by 12.5%, weeks after a public spat between Tesco and Unilever erupted over the love-it-or-hate-it spread.

The move meant Morrisons became the first supermarket to raise prices of Marmite in the face of rising costs linked to the collapse in the value of the pound since the EU referendum.

Darren Shirley, analyst at Shore Capital, said: " We believe it is still early days in the Morrisons recovery story, noting the group has yet to annualise its improved sales momentum and so deliver growth on growth.

"That said, we have growing confidence in the chief executive David Potts's turnaround strategy with the group engaging in a further round of Price Crunch in the period, the promotional strategy becoming increasingly clear and well-articulated within store and management's growing self-confidence around 'events', with sales across the Halloween range reported up 20% year on year."