Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:43 UK

Morrisons raises profit forecast

Morrisons supermarket in Llanelli

Shares in supermarket group Morrisons ended 8.1% higher after the firm said it expected to report annual profits ahead of its previous forecasts.

The UK's fourth-largest supermarket did not provide figures, but said sales growth was "well ahead of the market".

Shoppers were attracted by its "keen positioning on price", it said.

A TNS Worldpanel survey of the grocery sector found Morrisons' market share had risen to 11.6% in the 12 weeks to 12 July, up from 11.2% a year ago.

The figures indicated that Morrisons had seen the fastest year-on-year growth in the sector.

"The combination of strong price-crunch message and the focus on fresh food has seen Morrisons post a 22nd successive period of market share growth," said Fraser McKevitt, analytical consultant at TNS Worldpanel.

The TNS figures showed that both Asda and Sainsbury's had also increased their market share - to 17% and 16% respectively. Market leader Tesco saw its share dip slightly to 30.8% from 30.9% a year ago.

Cost focus

Morrisons said it was also benefiting from improvements to its supply chain and other cost savings, which were set to beat its expectations by £20m.

"The group's cost-conscious ethos continues to deliver," said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers. "All in all, Morrisons is continuing to apply pressure on the rest of the High Street.

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