Marks and Spencer’s (M&S) new in-store bakeries helped drive sales in its food department, which were up 3.4% for the first half of the year.

Over 190 of its food halls have now been updated, with the introduction of in-store bakeries, delis and pasta bars.

These stores outperformed the rest of the chain in terms of sales, with the new in-store bakeries being the best-performing department during the first half of the year, according to M&S.

Total sales for the retailer were up marginally (+0.6%), although UK like-for-like sales fell 1.4% for the 26 weeks to 29 September 2012.

Food performed better in Q2, with sales up 3.9%, compared to a 2.9% rise in the first quarter. One notable successes was its Jubilee biscuit tin, which sold 4.1m units worldwide.

Profit before tax fell from £321m to £290m on the same period last year.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said food had outperformed the market on a like-for-like basis. “Eighteen months in, we are making strong progress with our plan to transform M&S into an international multi-channel retailer. Our new international stores are performing well, and our multi-channel business is delivering strong growth,” he added.