A day after losing chief executive Marc Bolland to Marks & Spencer, Morrisons has announced a rise in like-for-like sales of just over 4% for the past three months.

The supermarket said sales grew by 4.3% for the 13 weeks to 1 November on a like-for-like basis, with total sales excluding fuel up 9%.

The performance represents a slowdown in growth for the retailer, which notched up like-for-like growth of 7.8% for the first six months of its financial year.

The results come after yesterday’s shock defection by Bolland to M&S, where he will replace Sir Stuart Rose as chief executive. News of Bolland’s exit saw shares in the retailer fall 5% yesterday, while the value of M&S stock surged by 6%.

Chairman Sir Ian Gibson said the group had “a strong and capable senior management team who will continue to deliver the business strategy which has enabled Morrisons to achieve market leading growth”.

A search for Bolland’s successor has already begun. Finance director Richard Pennycook is thought to be the leading internal candidate and is considering applying for the post, according to The Times. Contenders from outside the business could include Asda merchandising chief Darren Blackhurst and M&S finance director Ian Dyson.

Commenting on the latest results, Bolland said in a statement: “Morrisons continues to grow ahead of the market driven by our award winning combination of outstanding quality, fresh food and great value. I am pleased that more and more customers are attracted to Morrisons, as we continue our journey from national to nationwide.”

The retailer claimed a record 10.8 million customers had shopped in its stores each week over the period and said its new distribution centre in Sittingbourne had helped Morrisons deal with the additional volumes.

Read more
Morrisons’ Bolland to take M&S hot seat (18 November 2009)
Morrisons makes hay as profits rise 22% (10 September 2009)

Will Morrisons look to a supplier again for its new boss? Or does its next chief executive need a retail background this time? Click 'Post comment' to have your say.