Morrisons 35th successive year of increased turnover and profit was announced by a new executive team this week after the resignation of MD John Dowd due to ill health. Deputy md Marie Melnyk and buying director Bob Stott have been promoted as joint managing directors and Sir Ken Morrison, who was acting as md during Dowd's absence, has reverted to his role as executive chairman. The company also announced the appointment of David Hutchinson as a main board director. Stott said although the company was finding it difficult to obtain planning consents for new stores, particularly in the south east, it was planning to accelerate its opening programme. It only added three stores during the last year, ending with 113 stores, but it has seven new stores due for completion before the end of the year and Stott said he hoped to have 130 stores by the start of 2004. Stott said the company would not be moving into white goods in search of extra sales, like some of its competitors. He added: "Home and leisure is the fastest growing part of the business, but we are selling products people buy as part of a weekly shop, such as newspapers, greeting cards, CDs and videos." Morrisons achieved sales of £3.91bn for the 52 weeks to February 3, up 11.9% on the previous period, which was 53 weeks. Pre-tax profit was up 10.9% at £243m. Like for like sales were up 7.7% excluding petrol. Schroder Salomon Smith Barney analyst Dave McCarthy said: "The numbers speak for themselves. Morrison's is the fastest growing company in the sector in percentage terms and it's accelerating its opening programme." He added: "The new management has over 50 years experience between them. However, Ken Morrison's shadow looms across the business and will continue to do so, in the same way as Sam Walton's does at Wal-Mart." {{NEWS }}