Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips hailed the retailer’s “best year yet” as it posted an 8.4% rise in pre-tax profits to £947m for the year to 29 January.

The retailer’s turnover was up 7% to £17.7bn for the same period with like-for-like sales up 1.8%.

Morrisons put the solid showing down to increased customer numbers – up 400,000 per week, the opening of 24 new supermarkets, targeted promotions, improvements in own label and productivity.

“Customers were having a tough time but we responded with a new M savers brand for budget conscious shoppers, promotions that customer understood, and industry leading service,” said Philips.

“We know that 2012 will be tough, and we’ll be working hard to deliver even better value for our customers. At the same time, we have ambitious plans for the long term development of the business, through new supermarkets, convenience stores and the development of our multi-channel capabilities.”

Morrisons said its three M Local convenience stores were trading ahead of expectations and that it would open 15 to 20 more this year and a further 50 next year. The retailer said it was looking to adapt the format to include city centre formats and forecourt sites. It also pledged to invest in the infrastructure required to support a larger network of convenience stores.

In terms of its online aspirations, the retailer is set to launch in certain general merchandising categories in the final quarter of 2012. It also said it would outline its plans for online food towards the end of 2012/13.