Morrisons looks to build on its rising sales trend

SUPERMARKET chain Morrisons reports its half yearly results on Thursday in which it is expected to give an update on its £320m cost saving programme and the performance of its new convenience stores under the M Local brand.

The group’s first quarter figures showed a surprise like-for-like rise in sales, excluding fuel, of 2.5 per cent.

That figure was partly due to promotions around the Royal Wedding and a lift attributed to good weather.

The half-year report comes after a £1bn share buy back while founder Sir Ken Morrison has sold most of his stock in the company.

Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket chain has also managed to nudge up its market share in the course of the year.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Keith Bowman said: “Prior to the market update the consensus open currently denotes a strong hold/cautious buy.

“Group earnings are expected to have been underpinned by the by the company’s ongoing share buy-back programme.”

A string of other retailers are also reporting this week including Dixons Retail on Wednesday. The struggling electrical goods firm is in the middle of a massive revamp aimed at turning it around after a bleak period marked by struggling sales and profits.

The first quarter results face tough comparatives given last year’s World Cup which boosted TV sales and the launch of the iPad 2 which has helped to shore up the company’s flagging sales in other product areas.

Bowman said: “The full year results continued to highlight the challenges arising from squeezed consumer incomes amid intense competition.” He labelled the company’s stock a weak hold.

Other companies reporting this week include Home Retail Group, SuperGroup and Thorntons.