UK grocer Morrisons sales decline worsens

LONDON Thu Nov 8, 2012 2:19am EST

LONDON Nov 8 (Reuters) - Britain's No. 4 grocer Wm Morrison Supermarkets said an underlying sales decline worsened in its third quarter with the group missing out on the growth of larger rivals.

"With consumer confidence still fragile and high levels of promotional activity a persistent feature of the market, the trading environment has remained challenging through the period and sales were lower than anticipated," the Bradford, northern England, based firm said on Thursday.

The over 450-store Morrisons, which trails domestic rivals Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda and J Sainsbury by annual revenue, said sales at stores open over a year, excluding fuel, fell 2.1 percent in the 13 weeks to Oct. 28.

That compares to analyst forecasts of a decline of 2 percent, according to a company poll, and is a deterioration on a fall of 0.9 percent in the first half.

Total sales, excluding fuel, fell 0.4 percent.

Though Morrisons said it expected the market to remain challenging for the remainder of the year it anticipated that its full year financial performance would be broadly in line with internal expectations.

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