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Morrisons expected to come out on top in Christmas trading war

© The Herald
Originally published: 17.01.2010

Bradford-based Morrisons is expected to emerge as the Christmas winner among the UK’s big four supermarkets when it posts sales figures on Thursday.

Analysts at Evolution Securities expect Morrisons – which has lost its highly-regarded chief executive Marc Bolland to Marks & Spencer – to post like-for-like sales growth of up to 7% for the festive period.

This would help Morrisons surpass a resurgent Tesco’s 4.9% same-store growth this week and the 4.2% posted by Sainsbury’s, although Asda has yet to report numbers.

Evolution’s Dave McCarthy said the anticipated strong trading from the UK’s fourth-biggest supermarket would be “remarkable” on the back of strong festive trading in the two previous years as the company reaps the benefits of Bolland’s turnaround of the business.

But he pushed for a “rapid conclusion” to the hunt for a successor, adding: “The big issue is who will be the new CEO? Until this is resolved, the shares will be held back by uncertainty.

“This may not matter long term, but it is essential that sales momentum is retained.”

Retail sales figures on Friday are likely to be the highlight of a busy week for economic data as markets look for the latest signs of recovery on the high street in pre-Christmas trading.

Investec chief economist Philip Shaw – who predicts a 1.1% month-on-month rise in sales volumes for the month – said: “December trading seems to have been good on the figures so far.”


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