Morrisons offset disappointment over the imminent departure of its chief executive today by revealing sales “well ahead” of its competitors.
The supermarket chain said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT, were up 4.3% in the 13 weeks to November 1, a slowdown from the previous period as falling food inflation took its toll.
Its trading update follows yesterday’s announcement that boss Marc Bolland is to defect to rival Marks & Spencer early next year.
Mr Bolland, who joined Morrisons in September 2006 as chief executive, has been credited with reviving the fortunes of the supermarket chain.
Morrisons’ shares sank more than 5% yesterday on the news of his departure.
Today the supermarket paid tribute to its chief executive, but was adamant that the show would go on.
Group finance director Richard Pennycook said: “We think we have had a pretty good run and there’s more to come.”
He described working with Mr Bolland as “delightful”.
“He has been a great member of the team and we are sorry to see him go,” he said. “But it is a team here and we won’t miss a beat over Christmas.”
The UK’s fourth biggest supermarket said same store sales had been good in the period, having already warned of a slowdown from 7.8% in the first half of the year as food inflation eased.
Total sales – excluding fuel and VAT – were up 9.1% in the quarter.
“Sales continued to grow well ahead of the market, reflecting good like-for-like growth and the contribution from the 37 stores opened so far this year,” the firm said.
Mr Bolland said growth was driven by the firm’s “award-winning combination of outstanding quality, fresh food and great value”.
“I am pleased that more and more customers are attracted to Morrisons, as we continue our journey from national to nationwide,” he said.
Morrisons said it had received a record 10.8 million customers on average through its doors each week during the period.