A substantial uplift in sparkling wine sales helped drive strong growth at the Southern Co-operative over the Christmas and New Year period.

Sales of sparkling wines, including Champagne, were up 43% on a like-for-like basis at the south England-based convenience store operator.

Sales of table wine were up 12%, spirits 7% and beer and cider 4.5% for the three weeks to January 3.

Overall, the beers, wines and spirits category was up 10%.

The Southern Co-operative, which operates some 250 stores, saw a 4.7% uplift in sales, with total sales growing 5.4%, significantly ahead of Christmas trading figures posted by Waitrose and Marks & Spencer last week.

The group served some 80,000 additional customers during the Christmas week itself, which saw like-for-like sales up 7.7% on 2014.

Fruit and vegetable sales rose 10% by value and 22% by volume, while the group’s ‘Local Flavours’ range of locally sourced products expanded by 10%.

Mark Smith, chief executive of The Southern Co-operative, said: “These are our best Christmas trading results for some years, reflecting the hard work and enthusiasm of our colleagues across The Southern Co-operative.

“Our latest figures build on an improving trend in our sales during the autumn and provide an ideal platform for us to enter 2016 from.

“We expect the sector to remain just as competitive throughout 2016, but with the benefit of the enhanced Co-operative Food ranges and our investment in sharper pricing, we expect to continue to deliver core sales growth alongside our ambitious plans for additional new stores in the year ahead.”