Halloween helps continue sales recovery at Morrisons

Morrisons has totted up a full year of sales growth, with its 'biggest ever' Halloween helping cement the supermarket's turnaround.

Morrisons said its 'biggest ever' Halloween gave sales at boost in the third quarter. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The grocer said like-for-like sales in the third quarter rose 1.6 per cent, with Halloween turnover up about 20 per cent.

The figures represent a fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth amid a turnaround plan under chief executive David Potts, who took the helm last year following the removal of former boss Dalton Philips.

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Potts said: “Our like-for-like sales have now been positive for a year, which is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the whole Morrisons team.

“There is a lot more we plan to do. We will keep investing in becoming more competitive and improving the shopping trip, and I am confident we will serve our customers even better during the important trading period ahead.”

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Morrisons bags third quarter of sales growth

Morrisons flagged that food prices continued to fall during the quarter, with deflation of 1 per cent.

All of the so-called big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – have been cutting prices in a bid to better compete with German discounters Aldi and Lidl, who have eroded their market share.

However, Morrisons’ total sales in the quarter were down 1.2 per cent, reflecting supermarket closures and the sale of the M Local convenience store chain.

Last week, the chain hit the headlines after it jacked up the price of Marmite by 12.5 per cent, weeks after a public spat between Tesco and brand owner Unilever erupted over the spread. The move meant Morrisons became the first supermarket to raise prices of Marmite in the face of rising costs linked to the collapse in the value of the pound since the EU referendum.

Darren Shirley, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “We believe it is still early days in the Morrisons recovery story, noting the group has yet to annualise its improved sales momentum and so deliver growth on growth.

“That said, we have growing confidence in the chief executive David Potts’s turnaround strategy with the group engaging in a further round of Price Crunch in the period, the promotional strategy becoming increasingly clear and well-articulated within store and management’s growing self-confidence around ‘events’, with sales across the Halloween range reported up 20 per cent year-on-year.”