THE boss of Morrisons has said the firm is developing plans to “reinvigorate, refresh and strengthen” the supermarket group as it revealed a rise in sales.

The debt-laden company, which is the UK’s fifth largest supermarket group, has witnessed a challenging two years since being taken over by a US private equity firm in a £7 billion deal.

Bradford-based Morrisons has seen its share of the UK grocery market decline over the period as cash-strapped shoppers have increasingly moved towards discounter rivals, with Aldi overtaking Morrisons as the UK’s fourth biggest grocer as a result.

Rami Baitieh, who was appointed chief executive of Morrisons in November, said on Wednesday that the company is developing plans to “reinvigorate, refresh and strengthen” the business.

“Reporting today our sixth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales improvement is very positive,” he said.

“But there is so much more we can do, and together with my colleagues, we are developing plans to reinvigorate, refresh and strengthen Morrisons and to start a new chapter – which begins with our customers.

“I have been at Morrisons for only a few months, but it’s already clear that we have an abundance of talented colleagues, well-located shops, high-class food-making operations and a real point of difference with our Market Street butchers, fishmongers, bakers, cheesemongers and deli counters.”

Morrisons revealed that total revenues increased by 2.7 per cent to £14.9 billion over the year to October 29.

Nevertheless, this growth comes amid a boost from high levels of grocery price inflation over the past year.

The retailer said the performance included a stronger end to the year, with like-for-like growth, excluding fuel, of 3.3 per cent in the fourth quarter.

It also revealed that earnings increased by 6.5 per cent to £970 million for the year.

It comes a day after the retailer agreed a £2.5 billion deal to sell its 337 petrol forecourts to Motor Fuel Group (MFG), which is also owned by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Morrisons said the proposed deal would also see it take a minority stake of around 20 per cent in MFG as part of a strategic tie-up.

Part of the money from the deal will be invested into paying down the company’s £5.5 billion debt pile, with funds also going towards store investment and pricing.