Morrisons: Shareholder shun special div

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Morrisons shareholders will get their hands on a bumper payout this year after its booming wholesale business and strong in-store sales boosted full-year profits.

The Bradford, northern England, based group, which trails market leader Tesco, Sainsbury's and Walmart's Asda in annual sales, said on Wednesday it made an underlying pretax profit of 374 million pounds ($522.6 million) in the year to February 4.

United Kingdom retailer Morrisons has reported that revenue increased by 5.8% to £17.3 billion previous year, with group like-for-like sales up 2.8%.

Andrew Higginson, chairman, said that the retailer was "entering its third consecutive year of growth".

With the ever-present threat of German discounters continuing to snap at the heels of the established big four, further sales growth is likely require to inspire shareholder confidence as today's special dividend - presented as a solitary offering rather than the first of many - appears to be shunned. "We will continue to prioritise consistent, meaningful and sustainable growth, which I am confident we are well placed to keep delivering". It said that it was on track for annualised wholesale supply sales to its partners to exceed £700m by the end of this year and to be more than £1bn "in due course".

He added: "All parts of our progress so far have one common link: our colleagues".

In late afternoon trading, Morrison's shares topped the FTSE 100 fallers list, down 4.2% to 216.9p, having swiftly reversed an early advance as analysts took a closer look full-year numbers from Britain's fourth biggest supermarket group. "Listening to customers, responding, and improving the shopping trip are as important now as when we started this turnaround three years ago", he said.

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