Morrisons sales grow as it battles discount rivals on price

Morrisons has posted another rise in sales over the latest quarter as it has sought to shake off competition from discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.

The Bradford-based supermarket chain said it recorded a “solid quarter of progress” after it was boosted by a “great start” to its Aldi and Lidl Price Match scheme launched in February.

It revealed that group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT, grew by 4.1% over the three months to April 28.

However, the growth represents a slowdown on the 4.6% increase reported in the previous quarter.

Morrisons also reported that underlying earnings, excluding fuel, increased by £321 million for the first half of its financial year amid a boost from its cost-cutting programme.

Rami Baitieh, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “I am pleased with the overall performance of the business in the second quarter with supermarkets, convenience, wholesale and online all delivering growth and contributing to a 4.1% increase in like-for-like sales.

“Our Aldi and Lidl Price Match, introduced in February, has had a great start and is giving customers increasing confidence in the competitiveness of our prices across the shop.”

Mr Baitieh added that the group is pushing forward with its convenience growth plans, having converted all McColl’s stores to its Morrisons Daily brand.

He said it is targeting an expansion to 2,000 convenience shops by the end of next year.

The group, which was bought by US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2022 for £7 billion, also reported that it has reduced its significant debt burden.

Morrisons has cut its debt levels to £4 billion from a peak of £6.2 billion, driven by the proceeds of the £2.5 billion sale of its petrol station business to Motor Fuel Group – the forecourt giant also owned by CD&R.

Jo Goff, chief financial officer, said: “This has been another solid quarter of progress with sales and volume improvements right across the business.

“Our debt has now reduced by over a third and we made further progress on our cost savings programme with £78m delivered in the quarter, taking the total since the start of this year to just over £450m, in line with our £700m three-year target.”