- Supermarket group Morrisons said its first-quarter sales had risen 5.3%, putting it on track to meet its annual earnings guidance.

Like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 9 May rose 4.7%, while like-for-like sales excluding fuel sales rose 2.7%.

Morrisons said its full-year profit before tax and exceptionals still was expected to be higher than the £431 million it would have achieved for 2020/21, had it not waived £230 million of business rates relief.

Looking further ahead, the company said it now expected another year of 'meaningful' profit growth in 2022/23.

Morrisons said it was seeing encouraging signs both of significantly lower direct Covid-19 costs and of the recovery of profit lost due to the pandemic in areas such as fuel and food-to-go.

It added that it now intended to refresh its long-term capital allocation plans at the time of its interim results in September.

'The pandemic is not yet over, but it is in retreat across Britain and there is much to be positive about as something approaching normal life begins to take shape,' chief executive David Potts said.

'Our forecourts are getting busier, we are seeing encouraging recent signs of a strong rebound of food-to-go, take-away counters and salad bars, and our popular cafes will soon fully reopen.'

'The nation has a summer of socialising and sport to look forward to and we'll all be able to rediscover the joys of meeting up and eating well together.'

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