Morrisons has revealed like-for-like sales excluding fuel climbed 8.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to November 2, and said it has entered into a conditional agreement with Co-operative Group to buy 38 of its stores.

Like-for-like sales including fuel rocketed 13.3 per cent. Total sales excluding fuel were up 9.5 per cent and up 14.9 per cent including fuel, of which 1.4 per cent was a contribution from new space.

The retailer said the performance was in line with its expectations and that guidance for the year remains unchanged.

Morrisons said its performance was down to offering “great value and a unique fresh offer”.

It added: “The combination of our Market Street fresh food format, together with our Price Crunch deals on popular items and our sustained leadership in bringing petrol prices down has been extremely popular.”

The retailer said it remains “very focused” on the tight management of its cost base due to high food price inflation and revealed it has increased its customer numbers by more than 700,000 a week since it launched its Optimistation Plan.

Morrisons plans to acquire more than 500,000 sq ft of additional selling space through the purchase of 38 Co-operative Food and former Somerfield stores, at a cost of£223.1 million.

The acquisition is conditional upon the successful completion of Co-operative Group's acquisition of Somerfield and competition approval. The handover will take place on a phased basis starting early next year.

Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “In this challenging economic environment more customers than ever before are choosing Morrisons. Our industry-leading deals and unique fresh food offer have attracted over 700,000 new customers to our stores.”

This week Tesco revealed its like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 2 per cent in the 13 weeks to November 22. This compares with like-for-likes of 4 per cent in the previous quarter.