LONDON -- William Morrison (ISE: MRW.L) beat Sainsbury and Tesco to the queue to report interim numbers this morning. Tesco and Sainsbury are not expected to post second-quarter figures until Oct. 3.
Morrison said turnover for the first six months of the year rose 2% to 8.9 billion pounds, though the more important like-for-like sales were down 0.9%. Chief Executive Dalton Philips explained: "Although the sustained pressure on consumer spending was reflected in our like-for-like sales performance, we have made further good progress against our strategic objectives -- the building blocks which are the foundations of the future success of our business."
By the end of the year our new Fresh Formats will be in over 100 stores and we are now ready to launch our convenience stores in London supported by our new distribution centre. We have also extended our food production capabilities and will launch wine as our first online category. We expect to make further progress in the second half of the year.
The opening of its network of M local convenience store formats in London, plus an online offering in the second half, should provide a welcome boost to profits, which for now has been flat.
The U.K.'s No. 4 supermarket said pre-tax profits came in at 440 million pounds, which is a tad lower than last year's 449 million pounds. Nevertheless, it has upped its interim dividend by 10% to 3.49 pence per share, which was welcomed by the market with a 5% jump in the share price to 295 pence. This puts the shares on a prospective dividend yield of 4%.
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