Supermarket group Morrisons yesterday announced it would invest £450m in the business as part of its long-awaited strategic review

Announcing a rise in profits stripping out the effect of property gains of £331m from £54m in 2006, Morrisons ruled out a sale and leaseback of its £6bn property portfolio.

When asked whether this signalled an intention to take the group private, Sir Ken Morrison, chairman, said: ‘We have the strength to remain independent and we shall endeavour to use that strength to remain independent.’

However, it is considering entering into a property partnership for 25 of its investment properties as means of extracting further value from its property base.

The group also aims to strengthen its distribution network to cope with further southern expansion.