Britain's Wm Morrison Supermarkets met forecasts with a 22 percent rise in first-half profit and boosted its dividend, even as it forecast second-half growth would slow as food price inflation eases.

Britain's fourth-biggest grocer, which had raised earnings expectations in an unscheduled trading update in July, said on Thursday it made profit before tax and one-off items of 359 million pounds ($592.8 million) in the six months to Aug. 2.

Analysts' forecasts ranged from 350 million pounds to 366 million, with an average of 358 million, according to a Reuters poll of eight.

Morrison, which serves about 10 million shoppers a week from over 400 stores, said sales at outlets open at least a year rose 7.8 percent, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax.

It hiked the interim dividend 35 percent to 1.08 pence. (Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by David Holmes) ($1=.6056 Pound)