In a joint statement, Faye, Claire, Lisa, H and Lee said, “After five incredible years, we have decided it’s time to move on to new challenges.

“We have always said that when the time came, we would leave as good friends and go out while we were on top, as although we are very sad, that’s what we have done.”

Steps shot to fame as a line dancing novelty act but their bubbly image, Abba-esque melodies and the skills of producer Pete Waterman helped establish them as one of Britain’s most successful pop bands.

Their biggest hit was chart-topper “Tragedy,” which sold 1.2 million copies and went platinum in Britain after claiming the No. 1 spot in January 1999.

The band also had an incredible run of 12 consecutive singles in the top five – only the Beatles had more success – with hits such as “Love’s Got a Hold on My Heart,” “Better Best Forgotten,” “One For Sorrow,” “Chain Reaction” and “Better the Devil You Know.”

The group recently saw Gold, their greatest hits album, go straightto No. 1 on the British charts. It has sold more than 1.4 million copies.

Steps picked up three prizes at the recent British Smash Hits Awards including Best Live Act and a prestigious Hall of Fame trophy, and last year won a Brit music award for Best Selling Live Act.

The December 26th announcement ends weeks of speculation about the group’s future.

Earlier in the year, they were forced to issue a statement reassuring fans they had no plans to break up.