Morrisons misses forecasts ahead of online push
U.K. supermarket WM Morrison on Thursday posted first-half profit below expectations, but Trevor Strain, the chief financial officer told CNBC that it is only "mid-flight" on its journey into two new key growth areas.
The retailer, the U.K.'s fourth biggest supermarket, announced underlying pretax profit of £401 million ($634.1 million), against estimates of £410 million. This marked a continued decline for the firm, with Strain telling CNBC that the current economic environment in the U.K. continues to make it very difficult for its customers.
However, Morrisons, after investing more than £200 million pounds in a 25-year deal with online delivery service Ocado, is looking ahead to new growth opportunities to reignite its fortunes. The stock was up 2.9 percent in early trade.
(Read More: UK Supermarket Morrison in Online Deal With Ocado)
"Growth is dominated by two channels that we're not in," Strain said. "I think what we're focused on doing is building out our online offer and also a meaningful presence in the convenience channel."
Strain told CNBC that its online offering will be up and running by January and the company is rapidly growing the amount of smaller stores in the U.K. Two convenience stores are opening on average a week, he said, adding that by the end of the year there will be 100 in existence.
"(It's) something we're starting to attack with some momentum," he said.
(Read More: Tesco may launch tablet to rival cheap androids)
Meanwhile, Anthony Fry, the chairman of Espirito Santo investment bank believes that analysts are being overly harsh on the firm as it continues its redesign and focuses on the two growth areas.
"This is a very tough business to be in. Morrisons is still carrying some of the baggage in the marketplace of its history," he told CNBC. "(It) deserves a bit more credit in the City that it's getting."
—By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81.