Tesco recorded a 1.8% rise in like-for-like UK sales over Christmas, with CEO Philip Clarke claiming its results, particularly in food, showed it was “back on form”.

The retailer also confirmed the appointment of new UK managing director Chris Bush, a Tesco veteran who has been chief operating officer for the past nine months, having previously led its operation in Korea

It also revealed new multi-channel director, Robin Terrell, formerly head of multichannel development at House of Fraser and a former MD of Amazon UK.

As part of the management shake-up Ken Towle, currently Tesco’s internet retailing director, will become regional managing director for Europe, taking over from Gordon Fryett, who is to retire later this year.

Clarke said online had been a key driver of Tesco’s sales over Christmas, with online food sales up 18%.

He said more than half a million food orders were made in in the week before Christmas, with nearly 5% picked up by customers using click & collect. Tesco Direct sales were up by more than 16%,

Tesco said its Finest and Everyday Value ranges both outperformed the business as a whole, with customers “responding well” to a “much stronger seasonal offering”.

Sales of Finest champagne nearly doubled, said Clarke, who added that promotions in store had been “much more targeted” than last year, when results led to its first profit warning in 20 years and the departure of UK chief executive Richard Brasher.

But he added: “Our UK plan is not about fixing Christmas, it is about building a better Tesco.

“I am pleased with our performance over the important Christmas and New Year period in the UK, which reflects the progress we are making in improving our offer for customers,” he added.

“This performance was driven by a further improvement in our food business in-store and a strong contribution from online, which included our biggest ever week for internet sales, a successful first Christmas for grocery click & collect and a better performance for Tesco Direct, our online general merchandise business.”

He said it was important “not to get carried away “ by the results but said there was a “new sense of energy and optimism “ in the business.