Bargain Booze and Wine Rack owner Conviviality Retail has reported a rise in sales over Christmas as first-half profits increased.

Conviviality reported like-for-like franchise sales at Bargain Booze rose 2.8% in the two weeks to January 5 while Wine Rack like-for-likes rocketed 21.8%.

Group pre-tax profits before exceptional items rose 13.6% to £2.2m while retail like-for-likes advanced 1.5% in the first half to October 27.

Total wholesale sales decreased by 5.1% to £183.7m in the first half as the retailer reduced store numbers to “improve the quality of the estate”. The retailer had 616 stores last year and now has 592 shops.

Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter said: “Throughout the first half we have implemented our strategy to improve the quality of our store estate and build stronger relationships with our franchisees and suppliers. We acquired the Wine Rack business on 30 August, increasing focus on our wine offering and penetrating further into the South of England.

“As anticipated store numbers and therefore revenues have reduced in the first half of this financial year, this reduction is in line with our expectations and is consistent with our aim of improving the quality of our store estate. Work is underway to build a strong pipeline of new stores in higher quality locations for both Bargain Booze and Wine Rack and convert this pipeline to drive sales growth in future years.”

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “The interim results from Conviviality Retail today are depressed by the short-term impact of the overhaul of the franchisee base, but the improving quality of the core stores shows up in some solid christmas trading numbers.”