UK supermarket chain Wm MORRISON today (Wednesday) announced profit before tax of £297.1m (US$558.3m) in the year ended 30 January 2005, compared to £319.9m the previous year.

Group turnover was £12.1bn for the year ended 30 January 2005, a sharp rise from £4.9bn the previous year following its takeover of the Safeway chain.

Sales from the core Morrison’s estate were £5.9bn, a rise of 11.5% or 7.1% like for like. Sales in the converted Safeway stores were up 10.9% on a like for like basis, while sales in unconverted Safeway stores were down 6.8% like for like.

During 2004 57 former Safeway stores were converted to the Morrison’s facia. Stores are being converted at the rate of four a week, Morrison’s said.

“The task of converting Safeway has been challenging but I believe we have made good progress towards our objective of becoming one of the four major national food retailers and are on track to complete the programme well ahead of the original plan,” said chairman Sir Kenneth Morrison. “By the end of the current year we will have in place the stores and most of the infrastructure to deliver Morrisons quality, value and service nationwide.”

“Based on the encouraging results which we have seen in the converted stores to date, we remain confident of achieving a significant improvement in performance in 2006/7,” he said.