Sales at Morrisons climbed more than five per cent in the third quarter of 2018, although the supermarket chain reported an expected slowdown in growth after a bumper summer bolstered by hot weather and the World Cup.
Shares fell more than four per cent in early morning trading.
Morrisons posted a 5.6 percent rise in quarterly underlying sales in the 13 weeks to Nov 4, marking a slight drop from the 6.3 per cent growth in the previous quarter and falling below forecasts of 6.1 per cent.
The ebb in sales growth follows on from a second-quarter performance that saw Morrisons reach its best sales performance in nine years, as the UK’s prolonged spell of sunshine and an England World Cup run to the semi-finals helped boost consumer spending.
Morrisons boss David Potts, who took over the reigns of the company in 2015, has been spearheading the grocer’s attempts to become more competitive through lower prices and better online services.
Finance chief Trevor Strain – who has helped steer the once-embattled supermarket group into steady growth – also bolstered his role recently after taking on new responsibilities at the retailer.
The rise in sales will come as relief to the bosses at Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket, which faces a mass payout to staff after losing a major court case over a data leak last month.
The Bradford-based chain lost its appeal against a High Court ruling that it is legally liable for a former employee leaking personal information about 100,000 staff members.
In the first data leak class action in the UK, more than 5,000 Morrisons workers brought a claim against the company for damages for the upset and distress caused, after auditor Andrew Skelton stole their personal data, including salary and bank details, and sent it to national newspapers and posted it online.
At the Court of Appeal Morrisons had argued it was not responsible for the breach and could not be held directly or vicariously liable for it, but the court disagreed, paving the way for a mass payout, with Morrisons saying that it would appeal to the Supreme Court.