Sexy costumes, edible underwear and handcuffs have sent profits racing at Ann Summers.

UK operations - which includes the Ann Summer shops, party planning and website - generated sales of £143.3 million over 2005, up 16.5 per cent on the previous year.

Sales of the 'role-play wear' range - which includes saucy costumes and uniforms - saw sales jump 60 per cent over the year, helping group profit to rise 27 per cent to £2.8 million from £2.2 million.

Edible thongs, handcuffs and the group's new vibrator featured on the best-seller list.

"I'm very pleased with the results. The more risque products have been doing fantastically, despite a difficult retail market," said Ann Summer chief executive Jacqueline Gold.

"I think as a nation we're becoming a lot more relaxed - we're getting sexier."

However, the core UK business saw profits drop to £2.1 million, after being amalgamated with loss-making sister chain Knickerbox.

"Knickerbox is in a very competitive market," Ms Gold said. "It saw losses in 2004 and, in 2005, we merged it with the Ann Summers business. The negative result is still there, but it is certainly not as bad.

"I think the most significant strategy for Knickerbox was to move it into our Ann Summers stores where it has done well."

Overall, the group saw good growth. Sales rose from £123.1 million in 2004 to £143.3 million, while like-for-like sales for the year were up 11 per cent.

Ann Summers shops saw revenues rise 18.4 per cent to more than £87.3 million - up from £73.8 million - with an 11 per cent climb in like-for-like sales. Ms Gold praised the performance of the Ann Summer store in Birmingham's Bullring.

"I have no idea how other stores in the Bullring are doing, but our sales have been very good. Sexy people live in Birmingham," she said.

Whilst turnover from Ann Summers parties were up 11.3 per cent to £49 million from £44.1 million, the greatest growth was from the group's website with sales up 30.2 per cent to £6.6 million from £5 million.

Ms Gold - daughter of David Gold, owner of Birmingham City Football Club - said the result proved Ann Summers was still the number one for sexy lingerie and sex toys.

"Other retailers, such as Boots, Tesco's and Asda, have seen our success and have wanted to use it to boost their own sales.

"However, the advantage Ann Summers has is that we have invested a lot of time into developing our store environment."

Ms Gold said the group would now focus on the roll-out of a new store concept, a website redesign and staff training.

"It is a tough time in retail and, although we are still growing, I have decided to slow the rate of new stores down and watch the market," she said.

Ann Summers has 134 stores in the UK and Ireland and one in Valencia in Spain. There are ten stand-alone Knickerbox stores, and Knickerbox concessions in every Ann Summers store.