Shares at supermarket retailer Morrisons fell sharply yesterday after it announced sales growth at its converted Safeway stores dropped and sales at its core Morrisons supermarkets remained flat over Christmas.

Shares for the company dropped 11p to 203.5p and its brokers slashed next year’s profit forecast by 11% to £550m for the year ending January 2006. The forecast for this year for £375m in profits was not altered.

Yesterday the company announced that same-store sales for its core Morrisons chain rose only 0.1% for the six weeks to January 9, compared with a 9.6% rise for the same period last year.

The company is planning to sell off another batch of Safeway stores later this year and 60 stores are currently under review.

Reports in The Times today indicate that the company plans to sell off about 12 Safeway stores in Northern Ireland to Asda.