Brave face put on last year's big merger, as retailer toughs out Christmas results
Like-for like store sales were flat over Christmas for Morrisons' core stores. In the six weeks to January 9, the retailer reported a lift of just 0.1 per cent in core like-for-like sales, excluding fuel revenues. Sales for the retailer's remaining unconverted Safeway stores fell 8.4 per cent, excluding fuel, on a like-for-like basis. Combined sales of legacy Morrisons stores and converted Safeway sites showed an encouraging uplift, with a gain of 31.9 per cent in sales for the period.

The retailer said: 'Performance in core Morrison stores was affected by a combination of competitors' new store openings, some cannibalisation resulting from Safeway conversions, one less trading day and aggressive couponing activity by others to support the relaunch of stores that we were required to divest. We believe the performance of core Morrison stores is acceptable short-term, especially given the tough 2003 comparatives of 9.6 per cent main stores growth.'