Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 11:21 UK

Morrisons reports buoyant sales

Morrisons supermarket in Llanelli
Morrisons says it is seeing half a million new customers a week

Supermarket group Morrisons has said it has made an encouraging start to the financial year after reporting better-than-expected sales figures.

Sales, excluding fuel and VAT, at stores open more than a year rose 8.2% in the 13 weeks to 3 May. Including VAT, sales rose by 7.3%.

The Bradford-based group said it was a "particularly good result", with sales growth ahead of rivals.

It also said it was closing its final salary pension scheme to current staff.

From July, 10,000 Morrisons employees in two schemes will have their pensions based on their "career average" earnings, rather than their final salaries.

The schemes had already been closed to new recruits, who are offered a "defined contribution" pension scheme instead.

Morrisons is the latest of a number of firms to have closed its final salary pension scheme to existing staff. On Wednesday, Barclays said that its final salary scheme, closed to new joiners in 1997, would also close to its remaining 18,000 contributing members.

Market share

Morrisons said its recent sales had benefited as shoppers switched from "premium food retailers".

"The board is encouraged by the progress of the business at this early stage of the year," Morrisons said.

"Performance in the first quarter has been in line with our expectations and our financial outlook for the year remains unchanged," it said.

The strong sales growth at Morrisons has meant it has been gaining market share from rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury's.

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