Halfords moves into car servicing with new acquisition

Retail chain Halfords moved into car servicing and repairs today with the acquisition of The UK's Nationwide Autocentres in a £73.2m (€84m) deal.

Retail chain Halfords moved into car servicing and repairs today with the acquisition of The UK's Nationwide Autocentres in a £73.2m (€84m) deal.

Nationwide’s 224 sites will be rebranded as Halfords Autocentres and it is expected that Halfords will roll out a further 200 centres, creating 1,000 jobs.

Halfords said the rapid increase in demand for its in-store “we fit” services highlighted the opportunities in the car maintenance market.

Chief executive David Wild said: “Our expansion into the adjacent car servicing and repair market is an exciting and logical move for Halfords. Nationwide is a high quality business and represents an opportunity for significant growth.”

The largest UK provider of MoT and car servicing, Nationwide employs 900 mechanics and deals with around 500,000 customers a year. It has been owned by private equity fund Phoenix since 2006.

The current management team of chief executive Duncan Wilkes and chief operating officer Bill Duffy will remain in place following the acquisition.

Nationwide generated revenues of around £97m (€112m) last year, while underlying earnings are likely to be in the region of £10m (€11.5m), up from £5.8m (€6.7m) a year earlier.

Halfords hopes to double earnings to £20m (€23m) in its third year of ownership, while it should also benefit from cross-marketing opportunities.

The company, which employs 10,000 staff and operates 469 stores, has been one of the strongest performers in the UK retail sector after strong demand for cycling and camping goods.

Pre-tax profits rose 24% to £60.9m (€70.1m) for the 26 weeks to October 2 and the company said today it continued to trade in line with expectations following a strong Christmas period.

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