Supermarket chain Morrisons has seen its earnings almost double despite a tougher trading environment.
Sir Ken will retire after 55 years at the grocer
The grocer reported pre-tax profits for 2007 of £612m, up from £369m in 2006, as long-standing chairman Sir Ken Morrison retired from his post.
Like-for-like sales at the Bradford based grocer, excluding fuel sales, rose 4.6%, down from the 5.2% in 2007.
The results suggest the chain, the UK's fourth-largest, has revived its fortunes after buying Safeway in 2004.
"In my last statement as chairman of Morrisons, it gives me particular pleasure to be reporting record earnings and to see that more customers than ever before are experiencing the freshness, quality and value that Morrisons has to offer," said the outgoing chairman.
Sir Ken will be replaced by deputy chairman Ian Gibson, who will succeed him as non-executive chairman.
It will be the first time a non-family member has headed the firm since it was founded in 1899.
The turnaround comes amid a massive revamp across the business, to be completed by 2010.
It includes a new look for stores, a new logo, new slogan, new product lines and new staff uniforms.
This has been supported by an extensive advertising campaign featuring football pundit Alan Hanson and singer Lulu, which has succeeded in boosting the grocer's customer numbers by half a million a week.
Eight new stores have also been opened in the past year.
Despite significant investment in the business, Morrisons said it had reduced its net debt from £772m to £543m and pledged to return £1bn to shareholders during 2008 and 2009 through a share buyback.
Bucking the trend?
The High Street is suffering badly from a combination of higher mortgage repayment and credit card costs, fuel and food bills, which are putting huge strain on British households.
But Morrisons was confident that such an environment was positive for its business model.
"This environment presents an opportunity for Morrisons," said chief executive Marc Bolland.
"Whilst many of our programmes are designed to improve product quality or the overall shopping experience, the great value we offer our customers will be at the forefront of our activity in the year ahead."