Tesco UK like-for-likes edged up 1.8%, excluding VAT and petrol, over Christmas as it confirms the promotion of Chris Bush to UK managing director.

Total UK sales increased 4.3%, excluding petrol, in the six weeks to January 5.

Group like-for-likes were flat, rising just 0.3% over the period, as its international business experienced a 2% like-for-like decline.

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke said: “I am pleased with our performance in the UK, which reflects the progress we are making in improving our offer for customers.

“This performance was driven by a further improvement in our food business in-store and a strong contribution from online, which included our biggest ever week for internet sales, a successful first Christmas for grocery click-and-collect and a better performance for Tesco Direct, our online general merchandise business.”

The retailer said the performance provided “further encouragement” that its UK turnaround plan, “Building a Better Tesco”, was on track as most of its efforts have been focused on food so far.

Its Finest and Everyday Value ranges outperformed the business according to the retailer.

Despite the better performance in general merchandise it was still a drag on overall growth rates, although it said clothing enjoyed a “stronger period”.

Online food sales grew 18% over Christmas, with over half a million food orders fulfilled in the week before Christmas, with 5% of customers opting to use drive-thru click-and-collect, which is available at 140 of Tesco’s stores. Tesco Direct was also up 16%.

The retailer revealed that chief operating officer Chris Bush, who has been with Tesco for more than 30 years, has been promoted to UK managing director. Prior to his current role in Tesco he spent seven years in its international business in Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.

Gerry Gray, chief executive of Tesco’s Hungarian business will return to the UK to lead its UK stores and supply chain.

Tesco also confirmed the appointment of House of Fraser’s Robin Terrell as multichannel director. Current internet retailing director Ken Towle will move to regional managing director for Europe.

Clarke added: “We are just nine months into the implementation of our six-part plan, which is about Building a Better Tesco in the UK for the long-term.  Whilst our seasonal performance is encouraging, there is a lot more to do and the team is focused on delivering further improvements for customers in 2013.”