Morrisons chairman Sir Ken Morrison insisted this week the retailer remained on track to meet full-year expectations, despite a recent slowdown in growth.

Like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 3% year-on-year in the 23 weeks to 15 July. At Morrisons' agm in May, the retailer had reported 4% growth in the first 15 weeks of the year.

It said the slowdown was the result of tough comparatives from the previous year, when the market benefited from the World Cup and good weather.

However, Sir Ken said trade was expected to pick as the new strategy under chief executive Marc Bolland kicked in. "Sales volumes are lower than we would like, but the new marketing and store programme will commence this month," said Sir Ken.

"Good progress is being made towards meeting our ambitious margin and cost targets and we are confident that we are well on track."

Analysts said its performance was broadly in line with expectations and that everyone had seen 1% wiped off their like-for-like sales by the bad weather.

But Shore Capital's Darren Shirley said: "Morrisons reported 4% like-for-likes in May for the first 15 weeks, which means it has been performing just north of 1% over the past eight weeks.

"Sainsbury's and Tesco's inflation of 1%-2% indicates Morrisons like-for-likes have been negative at points in recent weeks."

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