Morrisons sees slim Xmas lift

WM MORRISON Supermarkets posted a modest rise in Christmas sales yesterday, held back by disruption from severe weather and a tough consumer backdrop.

Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer behind market leaders Tesco, Asda and J Sainsbury said sales at stores open at least a year rose one per cent, excluding fuel and VAT, in the six weeks to 2 January.

That was down on the 1.3 per cent rise reported in its last quarter.

Morrisons said its expectations for its full financial year remained unchanged and the consumer environment was set to remain challenging amid rising taxes and public spending cuts.

Chief executive Dalton Philips said: “This has been another good performance in a tough market.”

He added on the general outlook: “Consumer confidence is very fragile. It’s going to be a tough year ahead.”

The chain is maintaining its forecast for full-year pre-tax profits of around £860m in the year ending 31 January.