Woolworths described its Christmas trading as “satisfactory” and said retail like-for-like sales rose 1.5% in the six weeks to January 11.

Like-for-like sales at its mainchain grew 0.9%, at Big W 6% and at MVC 6.2%. Total group sales over the six week period rose 5.8%.

Total group sales for the 23 week to January 11 rose 4.7%, with the combined mainchain and Big W businesses up 3.3% and the entertainment businesses up 10.4%.

Chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones said the group had addressed some immediate operational issues and put in place a programme for the longer term growth of the business.

He added: “The potential for further improvement to the Woolworths business is clear. While there is still a lot to be done, we are encouraged by the progress that has been made to date.”

The group’s full-year results will be released on March 26.