UK supermarket company Wm Morrison has reported a 13% rise in full-year profits and strong sales growth.

The Yorkshire-based company, which recently completed its takeover of larger rival Safeway, posted record pre-tax profits of £319.9m (US$583m) for the year to 1 February, compared to forecasts of £309m-326m, reported Reuters.

Turnover rose 15.2% to £4.9bn, while like-for-like sales rose 9.3%. The company said its like-for-like sales have continued to grow, increasing 9.7% in the six weeks to 14 March compared to the year-ago period.

The company is now the UK's fourth-largest supermarket company, but faces the hard task of winning back Safeway's lost customers. Safeway sales fell 3% since the start of 2004 on a like-for-like basis.

Morrisons has unveiled further price cuts at Safeway stores, in order to bring Safeway prices in line with its own. The company said it would use merger cost savings to lower prices and increase sales at Safeway stores, Reuters reported.

Morrisons said it would begin converting most Safeway stores to the Morrisons format in August, but five could be changed over by May.