MORRISONS recorded its best performance in seven years, with a 2.9 per cent increase in like-for-like sales.

The Bradford-based supermarket giant has today reported the figures, excluding VAT and fuel, for the nine weeks to January 1.

The chain upped its full-year profit outlook after the better-than-expected sales hike for the nine weeks to January 1, pencilling in underlying pre-tax profits of between £330 million to £340 million.

David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: "Eighteen months ago I said that this would be a colleague-led turnaround, and our improving performance is entirely due to the continuing hard work of the Morrisons team of food makers and shopkeepers.

"Its expected underlying profits for the year to the end of January would mark a significant rise on the £242 million posted a year earlier."

John Ibbotson, director of the retail consultancy Retail Vision, said: "Morrisons has started the Christmas results season with a magnificent seven.

"Having already fired the first shot in the 2017 price war, it's out of the blocks with a robust set of numbers and a fifth consecutive quarter of growth in like-for-like sales.

"It's a turnaround that is looking more impressive by the day and the discounters are finally being reeled back in. They're suddenly looking human and are only really taking market share by opening stores.

"Compared to two years ago when Morrisons was on the canvas, the turnaround is exceptional.”