Ten Entertainment Group has seen a “strong start” to initial post-lockdown trading, remaining profitable and cash generative since reopening in August.

In the five weeks from 17 August to 20 September 2020, like-for-like sales were at 83% of the same period last year, a return to profit despite operating with 50% lane capacity because of distancing rules.

For the first 11 weeks of H1, the group saw like-for-like sales growth of 9.6%, and although the closure period had a significant impact on profit – adjusted pre-tax profits were at £5.7m for the 26 weeks to 28 June 2020, down from £7.3m in 2019 – its cost control strategy and secured liquidity has enabled it to “emerge from lockdown strongly,” executive chairman Nick Basing has said.

The group received support from both landlords and suppliers, saving over £3m in rent over lockdown and pausing the majority of its supplier contracts, and with the additional aid of government support has saved over £10m in cash during the period.

As a result, the cash burn rate was reduced by 70%, to £1.4m per month, during the peak of the crisis, and combined with funds raised from shareholders this meant the business could resist a period of closure around 18 months without taking actions that would impact the model long-term.

At 20 September, the group had retained over £15m of available liquidity headroom, providing it with sufficient funds to tackle any upcoming uncertainty in the next few months.

During the closure period, the business completed two major refurbishments – opening an all-new site in Manchester Printworks this month and adding additional lane capacity and features at its Acton centre.

“I am pleased that even in extreme adversity the team have taken decisive action that has enabled the group to emerge from lockdown so strongly, putting in place sufficient cash liquidity to protect it through a continued period of uncertainty,” said executive chairman Nick Basing.

“We have made a very good start, showing that we have a safe and attractive business for customers and staff. I fully expect our strategy for growth, proven over the years, to return us to profitable growth in the near future once circumstances permit.”

New CEO Graham Blackwell added: “We are really encouraged by our reopening performance. Our primary focus is to return the business to the trend of the first quarter through our strengths in operational improvements and commercial innovation. Our proven strategy remains relevant, and with a track record of eight consecutive years of like-for-like sales progression, I am confident that we will return the business to growth.”