Morrisons pre-tax profits surged 39.9% in its first half as group like-for-likes, excluding fuel and VAT, rose 3%.

The grocer has notched up seven quarters of consecutive growth as its turnaround plan gathers steam. In the second quarter like-for-likes jumped 2.6%.

Underlying pre-tax profits rose 12.7% to £177m.

Morrisons brought in £14m of incremental profit from wholesale, services, interest and online during the half, leading it to increase its target from £50m to £100m to £75m to £125m.

“A new Morrisons is beginning to take shape”

David Potts, Morrisons

The grocer, which inked a deal to supply McColl’s last month, expects wholesale sales to exceed £700m by the end of 2018.

Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson said: “This is another good performance from Morrisons. Our seventh consecutive quarter of positive like for like means that we are able to report profit growth on growth for the first time in the turnaround.

“With good trading momentum and a strategy to build a broader, stronger Morrisons, the business is well set to continue to deliver consistent and sustainable growth for its stakeholders.”

Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: “A new Morrisons is beginning to take shape. The capability of the team continues to improve and we are making strong headway with our plans to fix, rebuild and grow.

“Our supermarkets continue their focus on improving the customer shopping trip and, in wholesale supply, we are beginning to realise some of the opportunities that our unique team of food makers and shopkeepers bring us.”

Over the half, Morrisons said it had extended its online service to northeast England. It also said that its revived Safeway brand would be available soon, initially at McColl’s.