Majestic reported a rise in sales over the festive quarter but its retail division failed to fly.

Sales rose a healthy 6.3% over the 10 weeks to December 31, but core Majestic retail sales were up just 1.5%.

While retail sales climbed, the period was “more challenging than expected” for the division and gross margins were 1.2 percentage points lower year on year as competitor promotions dictated pricing.

In contrast, sales at Naked Wines shot up 15.9%.

The subdivision performed better in the US than the UK, rising 21% compared to 12.2%, as Britain endured “difficult trading conditions amidst economic uncertainty and weak consumer confidence”.

Majestic’s commercial arm brought in a 3.5% sales rise, while Lay & Wheeler benefited from a 5.3% uplift.

Chief executive Rowan Gormley said: “Consumer behaviour is changing and we’re seeing a revolution in retail. We think there will be winners and losers, and we believe we have what it takes to be one of the winners. We are uniquely placed, with the people, data and skills in place to succeed despite the headwinds we are seeing.

“While trading has been challenging over the Christmas period, the trends we reported in November are the same – namely strong growth in our overseas markets and our digital propositions but headwinds for our UK retail stores.

“We look forward to setting out more of our future plans for the group, including the retail business with our full-year results in June.”