Pre-tax profits plunged from £60.8m to £22.7m in the past year at Wilkinson.

But the value retailer said it was “pleased” to have delivered a profit – and that the 62% fall was delivered after “a challenging period in which several household names have failed to survive”. 

Wilkinson also noted “a small decline in like-for-like sales” due to fewer customer visits, but said individual shopper spend per visit was up.

Sales inched up from £1.559bn to £1.565bn after the company added 18 new stores during the year – an extra 300,000 sq ft, which took the company’s total trading area up to 6.4 million sq ft.

“Even in these recession-dominated times, whilst many are fleeing the high streets of England, Scotland and Wales, we seek to continue to support and be a key part of the lifeblood of our local communities,” said directors Karin Swann and Lisa Wilkinson in a joint statement.

“We have made great strides this year to shape our future and ensure we continue to be successful, competitive and relevant for many years to come.”

Outgoing chief executive Stuart Mitchell added: “Everything we have achieved in the year would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of 23,229 team members, our suppliers and family shareholders.

“Once again, in yet another challenging year for the retail industry, you have all played a part in our achievements.”