Morrisons like-for-likes dipped 1.8% in its first quarter as discussions to partner with Ocado to kick-start its online push continue.

The grocer, which has revealed it will launch food online by January next year, said plans were “progressing” and talks with the online grocer are ongoing.

Morrisons total sales edged up 0.6% in the 13 weeks to May 5, which the grocer said was in line with its expectations.

The retailer said it had remained “very competitive” during the quarter and had sharpened its promotional programme. It said couponing was a “significant factor”.  

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said: “We have made a solid start to the year, with our sales performance improving since the last quarter. Our promotions have been more innovative and we are explaining Morrisons points of difference more effectively.

“These efforts were further reinforced by the horse meat scandal, which helped drive increasing customer recognition of Morrisons unique supply chain and approach to meat sourcing. They now understand that Morrisons is best placed to sell food that is what it says it is.

“Strategically, our ambition of building a genuinely multi-format, multichannel Morrisons is right on track.”

Morrisons continued to focus on communicating its points of difference more clearly with its More of What Matters’ campaign, which highlights the benefits of its vertically integrated business and affordable fresh food offer.

The retailer has invested in price over the period with its Pick of the Street promotions, which offers value on fresh products, and its Payday Bonus, which gave a reward for loyalty at the end of the month.

A further six stores, including two Morrisons M Locals were opened over the quarter and it added 80 sites to its convenience pipeline. It said it was on track to meet its 100 convenience store target by the end of the year.

The grocer said it remained cautious on the economic environment but its full year expectations were unchanged.