Waitrose has reported a strong Christmas with online sales growth far exceeding those in the bricks-and-mortar operations.

Excluding fuel, sales at Waitrose climbed 7% to £728m year-on-year for the five weeks ending 3 January.

Like-for-likes at the retailer, which has 334 supermarkets and convenience stores, edged 2.8% higher over the period.

The standout performance came from Waitrose.com which grew 26.3%. Wines, flowers and hampers bought online showed a 39.9% increase. Waitrose said the figures had continued the company’s six-year outperformance of the market over the Christmas period, as recorded by Kantar.

Waitrose MD Mark Price said the strong sales performance in a tough trading environment was a tribute to all partners. “As a business owned by the people who work here, we can take the long-term view and our Christmas results show the effectiveness of our strategy of investing in good value, in making our shops attractive destinations and in building our online business.”

The performance figures came with the news that the company was continuing to build capacity in its online grocery business with the opening of a new 80,000 square feet bespoke dot.com fulfilment centre in Coulsdon, Surrey, on 3 March. 

Waitrose proposes closing its existing 37,000 sq ft fulfilment centre in Acton, west London, this spring. The Acton centre is “almost certainly” set to become the subject of a compulsory purchase order for the High Speed 2 railway in 2017. 

Coulsdon, with twice the capacity of Acton alongside vacancies in nearby branches, is expected to provide employment opportunities for Acton workers prepared to travel to the new depot.