Discount bookseller The Works has continued the strong performance it notched up in the second half of last year with “positive” like-for-likes since year end.

The retailer reported a 1.9% increase in like-for-like sales in the year to April 29 buoyed by a 5% like-for-like increase in the second half. Total sales grew 6.2% to £121.5m in the year.

Pre-tax profit slumped from £7m to £4.3m as the retailer invested in margin to offer low prices but chief executive Kevin Keaney said The Works has been “trading positively” in terms of profit since year-end.

He said: “Our sales have been very resilient, lots of people talk down the future of physical books but we are trading robustly. If you offer good value for money, customers are very savvy.

“Like-for-like trading remains positive this year since year end.”

Keaney, who joined the business last August as managing director before taking up the chief executive role in February, said the retailer is shifting towards becoming a “genuinely multichannel” business.

The Works is to relaunch its transactional website which will feature web exclusive products and improved navigation next month and introduce a click and collect service in the new year.

In August it acquired the database of defunct mail order books service Books Direct which has 100,000 customers.

The Works’ veteran buying director Julian Tucki returned to the business from retirement in March and bolstered a team led by ecommerce director Nick Thomas.

Keaney said that the 305-store retailer had benefited from the demise of former rivals Woolworths and Hawkins Bazaar while its “accessible locations” on the high street meant that its offer complements that of HobbyCraft.

The retailer is also set to open a new format store in Southampton in October. The new layout will feature an extended range of hobbies, arts and crafts products as well as a Kids Zone for children’s products and a deals area named We Love Books. The layout will be rolled out to two more stores in the New Year.

The Works completed 10 major refits of its stores while 100 stores received minor works to improve store standards, during the year. The retailer has also introduced craft demonstration zones in some of its stores.  

The retailer has a “controlled expansion programme” with 10-15 stores planned to open this year, Keaney said.

He added: “I’m very positive about the future and the coming year, we are performing strongly and confident in our multichannel approach.”

The Works has been approached by US bookseller Barnes & Noble to sell its Nook ereader however the discount bookseller currently has no plans to enter the ebook market.