Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley said that the retailer would go back to basics to cope with a trading environment it described as “the hardest we have faced in our history”.

Pre-tax profits more than halved for the year to April 27, plummeting to£85 million. EBITDA fell 29.9 per cent to£150 million. UK retail revenue slid 10.5 per cent to£957.7 million.

Sports Direct once again failed to produce like-for-like figures but said it would report them on an annual basis from April next year. Ashley said: “Like-for-likes are completely irrelevant on a quarterly basis to our business – tournaments throw it all out. We have come up with a true likes model, not some made-up bullshit.”

The billionaire said Sports Direct would need to hunker down and concentrate on its core business to ride out the difficult conditions.

“We need to really focus on the UK retail business, make sure the key printing press is working. It is now loaded with $1 and not $100 bills,” he said.

Kaupthing analyst Matthew McEachran said that the group’s venture in China with apparel retailer ITAT is one of its strongest opportunities.

He said: “The relationship with ITAT is progressing well, with a selected range in more than 100 superstores. Although they continue to expect no earnings impact in the first full year of operation, the earnings potential from this rapidly expanding Chinese sports giant is huge.”

The management admitted that Sports Direct’s hunt for a chairman is going slowly, but Ashley said he looked forward to finding someone. He insisted: “We are going to be good boys and follow corporate governance.”

The tycoon also said that, despite the difficulties Sports Direct has faced since becoming a listed company, there were no plans for it to go private again. “It would be a massive step backwards and we have absolutely no intentions of doing it,” he said.

Last week Sports Direct bought struggling fashion brand Golddigga out of administration.