Supermarket chain WM Morrison said on Thursday (5 May) that it has clinched its second consecutive quarter of sales growth, mainly thanks to a strong performance in its "food to go" section.
In the 13 weeks to 1 May, Britain's fourth-largest supermarket posted a 0.7% year-on-year growth in like-for-like sales excluding fuel, compared with 0.1% growth in the previous quarter and with analysts' expectations for a 0.2% increase.
The gain was largely attributable to a 17% surge in sales of "food to go items", such as sushi, pre-made sandwiches and crisps. The results make positive reading for the FTSE 100-listed supermarket which, like its sector peers, has struggled to overcome the ongoing price war that has characterised the sector over the past few years and had posted a decline in sales for 15 consecutive quarters until six months ago.
Group chief executive David Potts said the increase in like-for-like sales was encouraging but warned the company had a lot of work still to do, after admitting in March that it would take time for the supermarket to turn things around.
"There is still much to do and our colleagues are working very hard to improve the shopping trip and save customers every penny we can," he said. "Customers are responding and satisfaction levels remain ahead of last year."
The London-listed company said deflation was running at 2.6% and forecast it to continue along the same line for the foreseeable future, adding it was aiming to become "more competitive for customers".
Figures released on Wednesday by Kantar Worldpanel showed the Big Four of Britain's supermarket industry suffered a decline in sales in the first three months of the year, while Aldi and Lidl posted double-digit growth.
Morrisons, which last year exited the convenience store market, said it would implement further price cuts to narrow the gap between its prices and those of the two main discount chains.