Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips said it had been the retailers "best year yet"

Morrison's CEO Dalton Philips said it had been the retailer's "best year yet"

UK retailer Morrisons has booked an increase in full-year profits but said the country's grocery market is likely to remain subdued in the coming year.

In the 12 months to 29 January, underlying profits before tax, including one-off items, rose 8% to reach GBP935m (US$1.48bn), boosted by a focus on fresh foods and low prices.

Profit for the period was up 9.2% at GBP690m. However, including pension and cash flow hedging charges, total comprehensive income for the period was GBP621m, a 5.6% drop on the year before.

Operating profit climbed 7.6% to GBP973m, while total sales grew 7.2% to reach GBP17.66bn. Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT were up 1.8% on last year.

Morrison's CEO Dalton Philips said the year had been the group's "best year yet".

"Customers were having a tough time but we responded," he said. "We know that 2012 will be tough, and we will be working hard to deliver even better value for our customers."

The retailer opened 34 new supermarkets during the year and said it plans to roll out more of its M local convenience stores after good results at three trial stores.

"We have ambitious plans for the long term development of the business, through new supermarkets, convenience stores and the development of our multi-channel capabilities," said chairman Sir Ian Gibson. "I am confident that Morrisons will make further progress this year."

The retailer said it expects a "challenging" year in 2012, but said "tight cost discipline" throughout the business and "new opportunities" positions it well to continue to deliver profitable growth.

Morrisons will pay a final dividend of 7.53 pence, taking the total dividend up 11 pence to 10.7 pence per share.

Morrison's share price climbed 3.13% to 293.70 pence at 09:14 GMT.