Consumer uncertainty following the Brexit referendum made for a challenging financial year, Sayers the Bakers has reported.

The retail bakery chain, which operates around 170 shops and employs more than 1,600 staff, announced a drop in operating profit from £601,000 the previous year to £4,000 in its financial year ended 30 September 2016.

Following interest payments and other charges, the business posted a post-tax loss of £101,000 compared with a £351,000 profit the previous year.

Sales at the Bolton-based business, which trades under the Poundbakery, Poundcafé and Sayers brands, dipped 2.4% year on year, from £49.7m in 2015 to £48.5m.

In its accounts, presented at Companies House, the business said: “Retail businesses have encountered a challenging year, largely as a result of the Brexit referendum announcement and subsequent consumer uncertainty.”

Sayers added that sales had recovered steadily in the past few months.

“The focus this year has been improving the business following a period of rapid growth and the introduction of the national living wage.”

Looking ahead, the business said commercial risks included unexpected significant increases in raw material, fuel, electric and/or gas prices.