Morrisons, Britain's fourth largest supermarket group, has today reported a 25.3% fall in first-half profit, hurt by costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the company said it expected profit growth for the full year. 

The firm, which said in May that full year 2020-21 profit would be more weighted to the second half than usual, made underlying pretax profit of £148m in the six months to August 2. 

That compared with an analysts' average forecast of £146m and £198m made in the same time last year. 

Morrisons said second-quarter group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, increased 12.3%, having risen 5.7% in the first quarter. 

It said Covid-19 costs were £155m, partly offset by business rates relief of £93m. 

All of Britain's big four supermarket groups - market leader Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - have seen sales boosted by the crisis. 

But the flip side has been additional costs related to staff and customer safety in stores, payroll and home delivery. 

"We are confident of continued strong momentum into the second half, improved free cash flow and net debt, and another year of profit growth," Morrisons said.

Prior to the update analysts were on average forecasting a full-year profit of £432m, up from £408m in 2019-20.