Buoyant Christmas sales have turned Tesco Finest into a £1bn-a-year brand for the first time.

Finest meat and poultry grew by more than 55% in the six weeks to 6 January. Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco director for corporate and legal affairs, said the brand would grow further. "Tesco Finest is now a £1bn brand," she said. "Sales of Tesco Finest were £50m in the Christmas week alone.

"People seem prepared to to treat themselves at Christmas, which benefits British farming, fresh food and seasonal lines. It was interesting to see pheasant, partridge and quail doing well." It was a successful Christmas overall, as Tesco announced like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, up 5.9%. Organic sales, with 200 additional lines, were up 39% and Tesco.com, including Tesco Direct, was up by more than 30%, reaching sales of more than £150m.

There is to be an extension of Tesco Direct in the spring, with a new catalogue expected to boast more than 1,000 pages.

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