Waterstones recorded growth across all categories in the festive season, thanks to more books “under the Christmas tree” this year.

Speaking to Retail Week, Waterstones boss James Daunt said like-for-like and total sales were up across all categories during Christmas. The privately-owned bookseller declined to provide actual figures.

“Sales grew beyond our expectations,” said Daunt. “We had a good solid range of bestselling books. There weren’t any big celebrity books that took off, it was a very broad Christmas.

“The surprise bestseller were the Ladybird books for adults – we sold half a million of them. There was nothing else out in the market that was grabbing people’s credit cards, there wasn’t a real fad, meaning more books were wrapped up under the Christmas tree.”

Daunt said the sales growth reflected the larger trend that hardbacks and paperbacks were firmly back in fashion.

“For us, it’s important to remember that book sales used to be in decline. The fact is we have turned this around and it’s been happening for a while is a nice position to be in.”

Daunt singled out non-books such children’s educational products, toys, greetings cards, and stationary as performing well, despite the company pulling the plug on selling Kindles and e-readers. “We absorbed the absence of them without any undue alarm.”

Looking ahead to 2016, Daunt said he was feeling “very optimistic” about the year ahead. “We are accelerating in the way we our changing our business and as we make it better we sell more books.”