Specialist toy retailer The Entertainer posted a surge in sales in its first quarter as it filled the gap left by closed Woolworths, Early Learning Centre and Hawkin’s Bazaar stores.

For the 13-week period to May 5, the retailer’s total sales soared 41% while like-for-like sales increased 11.9% and online revenues rocketed 89%.

The “strong” trading performance “significantly” exceeded its targets, which resulted in staff receiving more than £80,000 in quarterly bonuses – the biggest such pay-out in The Entertainer’s history.

Managing director Gary Grant said the growth resulted from locating stores where other toy retailers have closed.

“Growth is mainly driven by continuing to step into Woolworths’ space. We’re opening in new towns where nothing has replaced those closed stores,” he said. He added that Mothercare’s decision to close many of its Early Learning Centres – more are scheduled to shut over the next few years – and the closure of 57 Hawkin’s Bazaar stores when it collapsed into administration earlier this year have helped strengthen sales.

“We are well-placed to pick up a lot of the pre-school market [left by the Early Learning Centres] and although Hawkins Bazaar’s products were not in the toy mainstream, its exit is encouraging the sale of products in the pocket money stream,” he said.

Grant said higher brand awareness had also helped raise sales after the retailer updated all store fascias, creating uniformity. The 68-store retailer plans to add another 10 stores this year.

It is launching a more customer-friendly website next month that will feature more convenient order options, including a 30-minute click-and-collect service, and be in place in time for Christmas.

Grant believes the Olympics will drive sales in the summer. In preparation he has developed a team of extra staff dedicated to repairing and merchandising the stores most affected by an increase in shoppers across the period.