Halfords pedals ahead with strong profits

 
Kasmira Jefford
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HALFORDS’ shares soared more than 13 per cent yesterday after the retailer posted better-than-expected first half profits, boosted by the strong uptake in cycling during this summer’s sunny weather.

The FTSE 250 group said pre-tax profits rose 6.4 per cent, to £44.6m in the six months to 27 September, ahead of consensus forecasts of £39m.

Chief executive Matt Davies said Britain’s success in the Tour de France and the hot summer weather helped lift the country’s interest in the sport, with first-half underlying cycle sales up 14.2 per cent.

“When you have doubled your sales of sunglasses you know it was better weather than last year,” Davies said.

Total like-for-like sales rose 6.2 per cent, with the strong performance led by a 7.7 per cent rise in its retail division, which makes over 80 per cent of group revenue.

However sales at its Autocentres business declined by 2.1 per cent on an like-for-like basis.

Davis, who outlined a three-year turnaround plan in May to reach £1bn sales by 2016, warned it was “still very early days”.

“There is an awful lot to do but sales are better than I could have hoped,” he said.