Halfords confident over prospects

UK chain Halfords credited its revamped Apollo and Carrera bicycle ranges and improved camping equipment lines for another strong sales performance today.

UK chain Halfords credited its revamped Apollo and Carrera bicycle ranges and improved camping equipment lines for another strong sales performance today.

The retailer, which sells one in three bikes in the UK, saw like-for-like sales growth of 5.5% in the six months to September 28 – at the top end of market expectations.

Despite higher interest rates and wet weather hitting the wider retail sector this year, chief executive Ian McLeod said he was “confident” over Halfords’ second-half prospects.

Mr McLeod said the performance came against tough comparative trading conditions last year, adding: ``This result continues to demonstrate both Halfords' resilience and its defensive qualities.''

The chain has 433 stores in total – making it one of the UK’s biggest non-food retailers – and sells around 11,000 different product lines ranging from car parts to alloy wheels and baby seats.

Halfords, which is based in Redditch, Worcestershire, is also gaining benefits from dealing directly with manufacturers in the Far East to cut supply chain costs.

Mr McLeod said profits were in line with expectations, leaving the group on course to post underlying half-year profits of around £47m (€67.6m) in November.

The group is looking to capitalise on the growing popularity of cycling and in June announced a partnership with Olympic champion Chris Boardman to launch a premium-end bike range with models costing up to £1,400 (€2,016).

Alongside the Halfords branded stores, the group has two specialist Bikehut cycling shops in Putney, west London and Brighton.

The company has also opened its first store in the Czech Republic, sparking expectations of a wider roll out across Eastern Europe, but gave no update today on trading so far.

The group, which has 10,500 staff, began life as FW Rushbrooke in 1892, before being renamed Halfords in 1907. The company floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2004.

In the year to March 31, Halfords posted pre-tax profits of £83.5m (€120m).

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