Shares in Wm Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW) have jumped more than three percent in London this morning, as the blue-chip supermarket’s Christmas sales beat expectations. The company further hiked its full-year profit guidance, having posted its strongest performance in seven years.
As of 09:09 GMT, Morrisons’ share price had spiked 3.45 percent to 245.60p, outperforming the blue-chip FTSE 100 index which has inched marginally higher and is currently 0.18 percent better off at 7,250.72 points. The group’s shares have gained just under 63 percent over the past year, as compared with about a 22-percent rise in the Footsie.
Morrisons announced in a statement this morning that its like-for-like sales excluding fuel had surged 2.9 percent in the nine weeks to January 1, marking the grocer’s strongest performance for seven years. The result was also ahead of analysts’ average forecast of 1.1-percent growth.
“This Christmas we made further improvements to the customer shopping trip. We stocked more of what our customers wanted to buy, more tills were open more often, and product availability improved as over half of sales went through our new ordering system. Both like-for-like and total sales grew, which was very encouraging,” the group’s chief executive David Potts commented in the statement.
Going forward, Morrisons said that it now expected its underlying profit before tax for 2016/17 to be ahead of consensus, between £330 million and £340 million.
The Guardian quoted Phil Dorrell, partner at the consultancy, Retail Remedy, as describing the Christmas sales jump as ‘quite remarkable’.
“Potts has turned this ship around and whilst navigating a big tanker like this takes time his grip on the tiller is both clear and strong,” Dorrell pointed out, adding that “Morrison’s Christmas marketing campaign was fresh and delivered a relevant food quality feel”.
J Sainsbury (LON:SBRY) reports tomorrow, while Tesco’s (LON:TSCO) Christmas trading update is due out on Thursday.