Halfords is planning to create 1,000 jobs over the next three years as it attempts to get back on track after a 27% drop in annual profits.
The recruitment drive is part of chief executive David Wild’s strategy to evolve Halfords from traditional retailer into “Friend of the Motorist, the Best Cycle Shop in Town and Starting Point for Great Getaways”.
The group employs 12,000 people and has 467 stores in the UK and Ireland but reported a fall in profits to £92.2m (€115.4m) and a 2.3% drop in retail sales to £752.3m (€941.8m) for the year to March 30. It admitted that sales in the new financial year had been “very disapppointing”.
With April’s poor weather likely to have impacted demand, it has not seen the usual seasonal pick up for cycles and outdoor products, although it is hopeful this will change as the year progresses.
Mr Wild said the company planned to invest in more fitting resources, increased marketing and enhancing its online offer.
He added: “This will accelerate the evolution of Halfords from a traditional retailer to a contemporary solutions provider, will contribute to future growth and create up to 1,000 new jobs.”
Relaunched ranges helped Halfords’ cycling sales increase by around 10% in the last financial year as it targeted more of a £1.4bn (€1.75bn) a year market.
Mr Wild added: “We recognise that although we are the biggest provider of cycles to the UK market, at a local level and online we are not necessarily always the best cycle shop in every town. This must be our aspiration.”
Sales of car maintenance products were down 4.5% over the last year as motorists drove fewer miles and reduced their spending on vehicles where possible.
And the lack of a prolonged spell of winter weather reduced demand for cold weather products such as de-icers, screen wash and batteries.