The Co-operative Group has posted a 3.8% jump in like-for-like food sales over the festive season.

Total food sales for the four weeks to January 11 were up 5.5% compared with 4.2% across the market place, the group said.

Chief operating officer Malcolm Hepworth said: “This strong performance is in line with the growth we have been experiencing throughout 2002.”

Hepworth believes the group’s performance was helped by the record dividend payout of £16m enjoyed by customers over Christmas.