March 9, 2017 / 7:20 AM / in 9 months

UK's Morrisons reports first annual profit rise in five years

LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Morrisons, Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket, reported a rise in annual profit for the first time in five years, cementing its revival under a new management team.

The Bradford, northern England, based group, which trails market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Wal-Mart’s Asda, said on Thursday it made an underlying pretax profit of 337 million pounds ($410 million) for the year to Jan. 29 2017.

That was up 11.6 percent from last year’s 302 million pounds and compared to analysts’ average forecast of 335 million pounds.

Net debt was cut by 552 million pounds to 1.19 billion pounds.

“We are confident we can continue to turnaround and grow Morrisons,” it said.

The supermarket did, however, warn of “uncertainties ahead”, especially around the impact on imported food prices if sterling stays at lower levels, as well as rising depreciation, pension and staff costs. ($1 = 0.8224 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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