Morrisons chief executive Marc Bolland has spoken of his reluctance for the UK grocer to move into online retailing.

The online retail sector is booming in the UK, with sales jumping 54% last year to GBP46.4bn (US$94.2bn).

Industry watchers have questioned why Morrisons, the UK's fourth-largest grocer, has yet to make a push into the sector, to compete alongside rivals Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Bolland said he wanted Morrisons to continue to focus on its Market Street concept, which has proved successful in positioning the company as the "fresh foods retailer" in the UK.

"It's really important that consumers see our stores and we need everyone to first understand the Market Street concept," Bolland said today (13 March).

"You can't get Market Street from a screen. Our first priority is to make sure everyone experiences the Market Street experience before starting to buy something online."

Bolland said the company would wait at least 18 months before making a decision whether to move into the online arena.

Bolland was speaking as Morrisons announced its annual results for the 12 months to 3 February.

Morrisons saw its annual profits almost double in a year in which the company gained ground on its rivals.

The retailer saw pre-tax profits reach GBP612m (US$1.2bn), up from GBP369m a year earlier. Turnover rose 6% to GBP13bn.

Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 4.6%, Morrisons said.

Sir Ken Morrison, who is to retire after 55 years with the company, said it gave him "particular pleasure" to announce the "record" results.