Shop Direct has named group finance director Derek Harding as its interim chief executive following a spike in Christmas sales.

The Very and Littlewoods owner said Harding would take the reins alongside his current responsibilities of finance boss at the end of January.

As reported last October, current chief executive Alex Baldock is stepping down from the business later this month.

Shop Direct revealed details of the succession plan as it posted a 6.3% uptick in group sales during the seven weeks to December 22, 2017.

The group said performance was driven by its largest brand, Very, which posted a 16.8% jump in revenues year on year.

Very’s success offset a 12.6% slump in sales at stablemate Littlewoods.

Shop Direct said the fall in revenue was in line with its strategy of “profitable, managed decline” for the brand.

The tech-focused business said 73% of its online sales came through mobile devices during the crucial Christmas period, up from 68% the previous year.

Shop Direct registered 102 million visits to its websites, up 5% year on year, while total mobile sales increased 18% compared to Christmas 2016.

The retailer also enjoyed a record Black Friday period, posting a 10.9% uplift in sales between November 13 and November 28.

Shop Direct anointed electrical as its “stand out” category across the seven-week Christmas and Black Friday period, with sales in gaming, smart technology and mobile surging 45%, 37% and 31% respectively.

Baldock said Shop Direct’s investment in data and technology created “an easier and more tailored Christmas shopping experience” for its customers during the festive season.

On his impending exit from the business, Baldock added: “It’s been a privilege to lead this team and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together; turning a dusty old catalogue retailer into a growing, profitable and innovative etailer.

“Derek is an outstanding leader, and as I hand him the reins I know that Shop Direct will continue to thrive.”

Harding warned 2018 would continue to be “tough” and “highly promotional” for retail, but added: “We’ll keep trading hard and investing in what makes us special to deliver another positive year.”

Harding’s appointment as interim chief executive came hours after it emerged that two more members of Shop Direct’s senior team were to exit.

According to Drapers, chief information officer Andy Wolfe and head of digital transformation Paul Hornby are both leaving the business.

The duo will become the latest departures from Shop Direct’s top team following the exits of group ecommerce director Jonathan Wall and Very Exclusive boss Sarah Curran last summer.