Marks and Spencer (M&S) has reported an increase in its 2011-2012 third quarter profits, thanks to its extended food offering over the Christmas period.

M&S said a 3% increase in like-for-like food sales, in addition to a rise in total UK food sales of 4.5%, (both excluding VAT) contributed to the business’ Q3 success. 

The UK retailer saw a 0.5% increase in like-for-like sales overall (excluding VAT), in the 13 weeks to 31 December 2011, with total UK sales (excluding VAT) up 1.8%.

M&S introduced 600 new food lines in the run up to the festive period, including seasonal products, party food and desserts.

Marc Bolland, chief executive at M&S, said: “Marks & Spencer performed well in a challenging trading environment. Our Food business performed very strongly as customers enjoyed our new and traditional Christmas products. This unique offer, coupled with our great deals, gave them more choice than ever before for a special Christmas at home.”

The business’ general merchandise areas showed a decline during the quarter, with total UK sales dropping 0.8% and like-for-like UK sales down 1.8%, both excluding VAT.