The Co-operative Group has seen a like-for-like (LFL) sales increase of 1% during the Christmas period following strong food sales.

In the 13 weeks to 4 January 2014, Co-op said that growth was “fuelled by the Group’s convenience stores which delivered like-for-like sales growth over the period of 3.2%”.

Sales were, it said, particularly strong in the three weeks to 4 January. Like-for-like sales for the total estate grew by 3.5% from 2.2% during the same period last year. Core convenience stores reported LFL growth of 5.4%.

Total food sales over the 13 weeks were flat at £1.7m, which it said reflected the disposal of larger stores during the period.

Steve Murrells, chief executive, retail, for The Co-operative Group, said that the results were a reflection of the group’s efforts “to improve the customer offer”, as well as showing the value of strategic focus on convenience retailing.

“Looking ahead, we believe that our core convenience stores should continue their strong performance,” he said. “Through the rest of the year we will continue to further develop our food strategy and customer offer around the core convenience estate, where we have a leading market presence and position.”

Euan Sutherland, group chief executive, added that the figures from the food business were “very encouraging”.