Sales at The Garden Centre Group jumped 17% over the Christmas period as transactions in plants and pet product categories soared.

During the six week period the retailer, formerly known as Wyevale, “outperformed the high street”, in what chief executive Nicholas Marshall called an “outstanding Christmas period”.

Annual sales at The Garden Centre Group, which was put up for sale in August, also increased by 8% in 2011.

The group reported “considerable interest” in its newly launched website and click and collect plant service, seeing a 70% increase in online sales against the previous year. Plant sales were up 90%, while pet products more than doubled with a 147% increase.

Marshall added: “We have got the mix of products and pricing spot on and our customers have responded well to that offering. By any measure, the full-year results have bucked the garden and broader retailing trend with considerable growth in revenues and stable gross margins despite the VAT increase at the beginning of the year.

“This strong trading performance is built on the foundations of an organisation that is investing in its people, products and outlets in order to achieve strong growth in very difficult trading conditions.”

The Garden Centre Group’s Christmas marketing initiatives paid off with visits to Santa’s in-store grotto jumped 30%.