Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 09:00 UK

Morrisons sees surge in profits

Morrisons CEO on sales growth

The UK's fourth-largest supermarket, Morrisons saw half-year pre-tax profits rise 45%, saying new customers had been drawn in by its prices in the downturn.

The firm made £449m in the six months to 2 August, attracting a million new customers in the past two years.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said he was confident shoppers would stay with the firm as the economy picked up.

Customers were still looking for value, he told the BBC, but added sales of "treats" such as cakes were rising.

'Value conscious'

The most recent data from 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.

But it warned there would be slower market sales growth to come as food price inflation eases back.

Its profits - which were up 22% to £359m on an underlying basis - came after same-store sales rose by 7.8%, excluding fuel and VAT.

Head of UK Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, Richard Hunter, said that, as with strong growth reported by Primark earlier this week, "the value conscious consumer has also been homing in on Morrisons' competitively priced offerings".

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