Morrisons will embark on a fresh wave of expansion in the South of England after strong growth in London and the Home Counties boosted sales and profits.

The Bradford-based supermarket yesterday reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 7.9%, excluding petrol, which helped to lift pretax profits 7% to £655m in the year to 31 January. The figures confirm Morrisons as the fastest growing of the big four supermarkets.

Marc Bolland, the chief executive, said that the company had identified more than 100 sites for stores, typically in the South. It wants to make the supermarket accessible to the 34 per cent of the population who live further than a 15-minute drive from a Morrisons store.

The Times