William Morrison, the UK supermarket chain that sparked the takeover battle for rival chain Safeway, has reported pre-tax profit of £276.6m (US$437.1m) for the year to 2 February, a near 14% increase from the previous year.

The Yorkshire-based retailer also said that like-for-like sales for the five weeks to 9 March grew 7.6% including petrol sales.

Morrisons brought forward the release of its results because the UK government is expected to announce in the next few days which of the five bidders for Safeway it will refer to the Competition Commission for further scrutiny, reported Reuters.