Morrisons reports first half profits hike

Profits at Morrisons have risen by a better-than-expected 8 per cent following record customer numbers over the first half of its financial year, the supermarket has revealed.
Despite the challenging economic climate, the Bradford-based retailer managed to lift pre-tax profits to £442m in the six months to July 31, up from last year’s figure of £410m and higher than analysts’ forecast of £437m.
Half-year revenues jumped 7.4 per cent from £8.1bn to £8.7bn and like-for-like sales – trading at stores open at least a year – rose 2.2 per cent (excluding petrol and VAT) over the period, beating forecasts of an increase of around 1.9 per cent but lower than the 2.5 per cent growth reported in the first quarter of 2011.
Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket group, said longer opening hours, its focus on fresh food and initiatives such as its price crunch campaign helped attract a record average of 11.5 million shoppers to its stores each week during the first half of the year.
Chief Executive Dalton Philips said: “During the first half the trading environment has, as expected, been challenging and we anticipate it to continue to be so for some time to come.”
“Despite this, our performance to date, our growing customer base and our ongoing focus on tight cost control throughout the business, give the board confidence that we will deliver our expectations for the year.”
Morrisons recently opened its first convenience and is also preparing to launch an online shopping operation as part of Mr Philips’s ambitious growth plans.