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Morrisons own-brand boosts sales

The UK's 4th largest supermarket defied the retail gloom and beat sales growth at main rivals

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Wm Morrison beat sales growth at its main rivals and defied the retail gloom on Thursday when it posted a 2.4 percent third-quarter sales rise boosted partly by its own-brand range.

A focus at the UK's fourth largest supermarket on low prices, promotions and fresh foods helped Morrison's beat its rivals – Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

CEO Dalton Philips said on Thursday there was no sign of a let up in the pressure on shoppers, who are seeing disposable incomes squeezed by rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures.

A third of customers at Morrisons, which has most stores in the less affluent north of Britain, have no money left over at the end of the month, he said, predicting a tough Christmas.

However, he said supermarkets were well placed to cope as Britons go out less and treat themselves more cheaply at home.

"People will be trading more out of restaurants and pubs into the supermarkets, so that bodes well for the sector," Philips told reporters on a conference call.

Morrisons was in a particularly good position, following its launch of premium own-brand ready meal range M Kitchen, backed by partnerships with five top British chefs, he said.

Ready meal sales had leapt 60 percent since M Kitchen's launch, with top sellers including Nigel Haworth's Lancashire Hotpot and Aldo Zilli's Pizza Calabrese, he added.

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