Britain’s fourth largest retailer has announced it will post a loss at the end of this financial year, as like for like sales in the third quarter slumped 5.2%.

Its acquisition of Safeway stores has been blamed, pushing pre-tax losses for the first half to more than £73m.

However, sales at the converted stores were ahead of the previous quarter, and some analysts said that things were looking up for the retailer.

Morrisons’ share price rose 5% on the day of the announcement, as investors had feared worse.

Overall, Tesco still leads the race for market share by a huge margin, clocking up 30.3% of grocery sales over the past three months, according to the latest TNS data.

Sainsbury’s increased its share of the market to 15.6% over the same period, while Asda slipped back to 16.7%.

Somerfield and Waitrose are holding onto record market shares of 4.3% and 3.7%.