Morrisons sees profits soar by 21% in 2009

Morrisons has reported a 21% increase in annual profit, which it says has been driven by its focus on low prices and fresh foods and hiked its dividend despite an uncertain consumer outlook.

The supermarket, which is Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer, and whose new chief executive Dalton Philips starts on March 29, says it made profit before tax and one-off items of £767m in the year ended January 31.

This was boosted by a 7% increase in customers choosing the supermarket chain to do their weekly grocery shopping, increasing turnover by 6% to £15.4bn, compared to £14.5bn a year ago, and like-for-like sales rising by 6%.

Profit before tax reached £858m, signifiantly higher than the previous year’s £655m.

Sir Ian Gibson, non-executive chairman, says: “Morrisons had another good year. Once again our focus on fresh food and great value appealed to shoppers everywhere, and we have successfully grown sales and profits to record levels. We completed delivery of the Optimisation Plan first launched four years ago, and we are well on the way to cementing our position as the Food Specialist for Everyone. The opening of 43 new stores in the year accelerated our journey from National to Nationwide.”

“We expect the economic environment to remain challenging, disposable incomes to be under pressure and value to remain a high priority for consumers. The Board believes that Morrisons unique offer of high quality, fresh food at great value prices will continue to attract customers from our competitors and drive market share growth in the year ahead. For the longer term, we will continue to utilise our balance sheet strength to invest for growth, with new space, new manufacturing capability and new systems priorities in the year ahead.”

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