Halfords shares in a spin after poor cycle sales

SHARES in bikes-to-car parts retailer Halfords took a downhill course yesterday after this summer’s wet weather hit cycling sales in the second quarter.

Group like-for-like sales dropped 1.3 per cent in the eight weeks to the end of August – with cycling recording a sharp fall of 11 per cent.

The company blamed the poor results on greater levels of discounting this summer and bad weather, which it said “deterred casual cyclists” from making purchases.

Cycling has been a key part of Halford’s turnaround over the last three years as Britain’s success at events such as the Olympics and Tour de France helped boost the popularity of the sport.

The company capitalised on this boom by buying Olympic champion Chris Boardman’s eponymous bike business and resurrecting its Cycle Republic chain, five years after the last store closed its doors. It has also revamped its stores with larger cycle areas selling clothing and accessories.

Chief executive Jill McDonald, who joined Halfords in May from McDonald’s, said the cycling business would be boosted by a planned revamp of children’s bikes and accessories.

“This recent weakness in our cycling sales is disappointing, but it comes after two years of very strong growth in the category and has been partly offset by strong growth in both Car maintenance and car Enhancement sales,” she said.

Shares fell 8.8 per cent to 465p, despite the firm insisting it remained on track to meet full-year profit goals.