The UK’s fourth largest supermarket Morrisons has seen its share value rise by 4.98% in morning trade after positive sales figures suggested the company is recovering after its troublesome 2004 acquisition of Safeway.

Morrisons said that comparable sales for the 25 weeks to 23 July rose by 6.6%, beating analysts’ expectations. In the nine weeks since the company reported at its AGM, comparable sales have grown by 7.5%.

For the 25-week period, total sales increased by 0.1% – reflecting the reduction in store numbers resulting from the company’s store disposal plan which was formulated after the Safeway acquisition.

The company indicated that it has made progress on its targets, with improvement in the gross margin being delivered ahead of plan.

Commenting on trading, chairman Sir Ken Morrison said: “The board is pleased with the progress being made towards the delivery of our Optimisation Plan targets, in particular our goal to improve gross margin by 90bps over three years, which is being delivered ahead of plan.”