The Entertainer suffered a fall in pre-tax profits from £674,643 to £38,722 in the year to January 31, but the toy chain said it is on course to post record profits in its current financial year as sales soar.

The 48-store retailer’s like-for-likes dropped 5% in the period, as it took a battering from the Woolworths closing down Sale and the recession took its toll. But it did grow turnover from £50.6m to £52m.

The Entertainer managing director Gary Grant said the year’s trading was the “most traumatic and unpredictable” he has experienced in the retailer’s 28-year history.

He said: “To have a made a profit last year was a result. Before Christmas there was a worry we might post a loss.”

The Entertainer has dramatically improved sales in the first half of this financial year, with like-for-likes
up 17% in the six months to July 31 and total sales rocketing 33%.

Grant said this year will be the most profitable in the retailer’s history as it benefits from capacity withdrawal and a trimmer business. “Last year was a culture shock, we’d become a little bit fat. Now our staffing level is 10% lower. We’re delighted with this year’s trading but we’re still being extremely cautious.”

He said sales towards the end of last year were battered by the “unprecedented promotions” offered during Woolworths’ closing down Sale. “It was a fight for survival,” said Grant. “But when Woolworths’ ranges depleted in December and January, our sales went up.”

Grant said it has traded “very well” in its 38 stores that are located close to former Woolworths stores. He wants to grow its market share from 3.7% to 5% in the long term.

The retailer, which said a third of its landlords are accepting monthly rents, opened six stores in the year, and will open a further two in this financial year. Grant said its property agency Reid Rose Gregory is “actively looking” for store openings next year.