The Works posted a fall in half-year profits as it was revealed that chief executive Kevin Keaney is stepping down with immediate effect.

Keaney will be replaced by chief financial officer Gavin Peck. Prior to joining The Works in April 2018, Peck was commercial director at Card Factory.

The current head of finance Rosie Fordham has been appointed as interim chief financial officer.

The Works’ adjusted EBTIDA fell to -£4.3m during the 26 weeks to October 27 from a loss of -£0.9m for the same period the previous year.

The toys, books and stationery retailer also registered a slowdown in like-for-like sales from an increase of 4.5% during the 11 weeks to January 13, 2019, to an uptick of 1.5% during the 11 weeks to January 12, 2020.

Kevin Keaney

Kevin Keaney is leaving The Works after nine years

The toys, books and stationery retailer’s adjusted EBTIDA fell to -£4.3m during the 26 weeks to October 27 from a loss of -£0.9m for the same period the previous year.

Like-for-like sales declined 1.9% during the half-year period, which the business attributed to a “difficult consumer backdrop”.

To ensure The Works can be profitable in the future, it will be refocusing its growth strategy by opening less stores.

During the 26 weeks to October 27, the retailer opened 28 stores, taking its total to 538. It has no plans to open any more stores this financial year with 20 planned for 2021.

Peck said: “I am pleased to report that the company delivered a solid performance during the key Christmas trading period with like-for-like sales up 1.5%. This was driven by growth in both stores and online.

“However, to ensure we are well placed to deliver profitable growth in the medium-term, we have taken action to refocus our strategy by opening fewer new stores, with a view to driving improved performance in our existing estate and increasing our focus on cost savings.

“We remain confident in the prospects for the company with the business trading in line with the board’s full-year expectations.

“I am delighted to be taking on the role of CEO. The Works is a great business with fantastic colleagues providing a compelling and differentiated offering for our customers. Building on the company’s established foundations, I look forward to leading The Works in its next phase and creating value for all of our stakeholders.”

Keaney said: “After an incredible nine years, I believe now is the right time for me to hand over to a new CEO to lead The Works through its next phase of development. While this has been a very difficult decision, it feels like the right time to take a break, spend time with my family and think about what I want to do next.

“It’s been a privilege to lead The Works over these past years and more recently as a public company. It is a tremendous business supported by incredibly talented colleagues. I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved together and I would like to thank the board and everyone at The Works for their support through the years.

“I am delighted to be handing over to Gavin, who I have worked closely with over the last 20 months, and I am confident that under Gavin’s leadership the business will go from strength to strength.