UK Markets close in 1 hr 23 mins

Morrisons leaping after it makes hay while sun shines

Angela Jameson
Sunny days: Morrisons saw shoppers snap up barbecue goods in the first half of the year: REUTERS

​Morrisons shoppers pulled out all the stops for this summer’s few good days, helping the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket step up its turnaround.

Shoppers snapped up barbecue goods when the sun shone and Morrisons said its strategy of “stepping on the gas” for holidays and events was paying off.

Seasonal produce, including asparagus and Jersey royals, also sold well.

Chief executive David Potts said: “We are still seeing people really going for it when the sun shines and on high days and holidays. We are looking forward to Christmas.”

Morrisons posted a 12% increase in underlying pre-tax profits at the half year, up from £157 million this time last year. Overall same-store sales rose by 3%, up from 2.4% in the previous six months.

Despite its seventh consecutive quarter of increasing sales, Potts said the supermarket was still in “fix” mode and was only halfway through refurbishing its estate.

Morrisons said its shoppers were facing many uncertainties and the retail environment was “challenging” because of the implications of Brexit and the impact of lower sterling on inflation.

Potts said the trend for shoppers to spend less and visit more frequently was continuing.

Morrisons and said its annual wholesale sales would exceed £700 million next year.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Tesco takeover target Booker Group said its second-quarter sales rose by 1.1%, helped by strong sales to chain restaurants.

Stripping out tobacco, the wholesaler, which also runs Budgens and Londis stores, saw sales climb by 5.8%.