Morrisons first-half revenue up 4.5% to £8.8bn

Bradford-based supermarket group Morrisons said on Thursday its first-half revenue rose 4.5% to £8.8 billion and underlying profit before tax rose 9% to £193 million.

Morrisons CEO David Potts said: “Strong growth, including our best quarterly like-for-like sales for nearly a decade, together with another special dividend for our shareholders, shows how new Morrisons can keep improving for all stakeholders.

“Morrisons continues to become broader, stronger and a more popular and accessible brand, and I am confident that our exceptional team of food makers and shopkeepers can keep driving the turnaround at pace.”

In its outlook, Morrisons added: “We are confident that Morrisons has many meaningful and sustainable sales and profit growth opportunities ahead.

“We also expect free cash flow generation to remain strong and sustainable.

“Reflecting this progress and our expectations, we are today announcing a further special dividend of 2.00p per share.

“As we stated at the 2017/18 preliminary results, we will retain a strong and flexible balance sheet, and we will be guided each year by the principles of our capital allocation framework in assessing the uses of free cash flow.

During Q2, we progressed our wholesale supply partnership with McColl’s more quickly than initially expected.

“As a result, we now expect to achieve our target of £700m of total annualised wholesale supply sales ahead of our initial end-2018 guidance.

“Our plan for £1bn of annualised wholesale supply sales in due course remains unchanged.

This speeding up of wholesale supply to McColl’s, plus investments in store-pick and the new Erith customer fulfilment centre (CFC) for, means we incurred some extra start-up costs in the first half.

“We expect these costs to reduce during the second half and beyond …”