Morrisons has posted its strongest Christmas performance for seven years with like-for-like sales up 2.9% – 4.7% including fuel – in the nine weeks to the beginning of the year.

The Bradford-based group said in its Christmas trading statement that total sales climbed 4%, or 2% excluding fuel, despite the continuing impact of store closures.

Morrisons attributed the growth to a more competitive offer and better customer service.

Fresh categories, such as fruit and vegetables, and beers, wines & spirits, performed well, it said.

The group launched more than 100 new “Best” label product for Christmas, following the launch of the brand with 470 products in the autumn.

Morrisons said customer feedback on quality and breadth of the range had been “excellent” and it saw further “significant potential” for the brand.

It said a new automated ordering system introduced for grocery and many fresh categories was a time saver and had improved availability significantly and stock levels held.

David Potts chief executive, said: “We stocked more of what our customers wanted to buy, more tills were open more often, and product availability improved as over half of sales went through our new ordering system.”