McColl’s Retail Group has announced a solid Christmas trading period, with like-for-likes dipping 0.7% but total sales up 3.3% on the back of its ongoing c-store expansion programme.

The group’s like-for-like (LFL) sales in the six weeks to 10 January marked an improvement on the 1.1% decline seen in the fourth quarter of 2015. Food to go was the standout category performer, with LFL sales up 25%.

LFL sales in premium convenience and food and wine stores were flat at 0.1%, while standard convenience and newsagents reported a 1.8% decline.

In the six-week period the group exchanged contracts on a further nine store acquisitions, taking the total number of convenience stores to nearly 900.

Chief executive James Lancaster said: “I am encouraged by our trading performance over Christmas and New Year. Our strong sales have been driven by the continued focus on premium convenience stores, with the food to go offering going from strength to strength.

“I am also delighted to report us approaching 900 convenience stores, another important milestone on our journey to 1,000 convenience stores in 2016.”