Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest grocer, today (5 June) reported “industry-leading” sales figures during its fiscal first quarter.


The company posted a 7% increase in like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to 4 May; a result it said was ahead of rivals Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.


However, the figures suggested that sales growth at Morrisons had slowed. The retailer enjoyed a bumper Christmas when sales rose 9.5%.


Nevertheless, chief executive Marc Bolland insisted Morrisons was performing ahead of the market, despite “far lower brand advertising” during its first quarter.


Bolland said sales growth at Morrisons stores was not being boosted by special offers. “This is not on the back of promotions. Consumers have really bought a full basket and have not been fishing around for promotions,” he said.


Nonetheless, with commodity costs leading to higher in-store prices across UK retailers, Bolland said Morrisons had cut prices on around 2,000 products.


Morrisons warned of “ongoing pressure” from energy and commodity costs but Bolland said it remains “very difficult” to forecast commodity prices. He said a good harvest in Australia could, for instance, soften grain prices.


Morrisons enjoys an 11.2% share of UK grocery sales, according to figures for the 12 weeks to 28 May from analysts TNS Worldpanel.