(Bloomberg) -- Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc’s sales slumped in its second quarter as the grocer faced a tough comparison with 2018, when unseasonably warm weather, the World Cup and a royal wedding boosted spending. But it predicted an improvement in the second half, lifting the shares.

  • Comparable group sales fell 1.9% for the quarter, slowing half-year growth to 0.2%. Sales fell slightly less than analysts had anticipated in an estimate compiled by the company. Morrison also boosted its interim dividend 2.1% to 3.93 pence a share.

Key Insights

  • The retailer cited a challenging consumer backdrop and the comparison to the 2018 quarter. Its market share has slipped since last year, as discount grocers Lidl and Aldi continue to draw U.K. customers.
  • Morrison has focused on driving online sales through partnerships with Amazon.com Inc. and Ocado Group Plc. The company announced it would start expanding its offering on Amazon Prime Now in the third quarter, having loosened its ties with Ocado in May.
  • The grocer announced four new wholesale supply agreements, including a new export partner in the Middle East and new convenience store trials. It will be welcome news to investors, as its stock has faltered since the planned merger between rivals J Sainsbury Plc and Walmart Inc’s Asda was blocked by regulators in April.

Market Reaction

  • Morrison rose as much as 5% in early London trading, trimming the loss over the past 12 months to 25%.

Get More

  • Read the statement.

(Updates with share gain.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Milligan in London at emilligan11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Marthe Fourcade

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