Alongside full-year results to 28 September, the FTSE 250 group said over the subsequent five weeks, like-for-like (LFL) sales have risen 1.4% compared to the same period last year, which were better than its peers but lower than growth in the past year.
In the preceding 12 months, LFL sales grew 3.5% to £2bn, with average spend per item up 3.4% on food and 4.5% on drink, reflecting price rises and efforts to showcase the quality of the offer.
Adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) were 3% higher at £436mln, while statutory profit before tax jumped 26% to £177mln. Free cash flow swung from a loss of £19mln to £11mln.
No final dividend was proposed as part of the firm’s strategy to strengthen the business and knock off debt, which was reduced by 7% to £1.5bn.
According to broker Peel Hunt, which forecasts LFL growth to be up between 2% and 2.5% in the current year, the debt reduction paired with the uptick in EBITDA created 25% growth in equity value.
Shares were up 4% to 465.5p on Wednesday morning, reaching levels not seen since summer 2015