Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest grocer, today (6 September) claimed “steady progress” in the first half of its financial year after reporting results that included higher revenues, net profit but falling like-for-like sales.

The company booked net profit of GBP329m (US$523.4m) for the 26 weeks to 29 July, compared to GBP326m a year earlier.

However, pre-tax profits dipped from GBP449m to GBP440m. Morrisons said underlying pre-tax profits, which excluded property disposals, costs from multi-channel and convenience development and pension interest, were up 1% at GBP445m.

Morrisons saw its turnover improve, up 2.3% at GBP8.9bn. However, like-for-like sales excluding VAT and fuel were down 0.9%.

The retailer also announced plans to reduce its capital expenditure by GBP100m in the next two years.

“Although the sustained pressure on consumer spending was reflected in our like-for- like  sales performance, we have made further good progress against our strategic objectives – the building blocks which are the foundations of the future success of our business,” chief executive Dalton Philips said.

“By the end of the year our new Fresh Formats will be in over 100 stores and we are now ready to launch our convenience stores in London supported by our new distribution centre. We have also extended our food production capabilities and will launch wine as our first online category. We expect to make further progress in the second half of the year.”

Click here to read more on Philips’ defence of the UK retailer’s “fresh format” stores and its policy on vouchers.