ALFORDS posted a jump in first quarter sales yesterday, boosted by demand for its cycling range during the drier weather and a solid performance from its car maintenance division.
The FTSE 250 group, which trades from around 470 stores in the UK and Ireland plus 290 Autocentres, said sales at stores open over a year grew 8.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 June.
Total retail sales rose nine per cent, helped by the drier weather compared to a year ago. Sales at its smaller Autocentres division rose 7.8 per cent, though on a like-for-like basis they were down 0.9 per cent.
“Our retail performance reflected better trading execution in areas of opportunity whilst we were up against a weak comparative period,” Halfords chief executive Matt Davis said.
Online sales jumped 15.5 per cent, with cycling accounting for over half of revenues. Total cycle sales were also up 15.5 per cent.
Davis, who joined Halfords late last year, unveiled a three-year turnaround plan in May to reach £1bn sales by 2016. This compares with £871m in sales last year.
Around £50m will be spent on revamping 150 stores with larger cycle areas selling clothing and accessories as part of the plan.
Halfords is already the UK’s largest bike retailer, selling more than 190 models including Pinarello – the same brand used by Bradley Wiggins – and ranges designed with Chris Boardman and Victoria Pendleton.
It is hoping to grow its share in the fast-growing cycle parts, accessories and clothing market, where it competes with specialists such as Evans and online retailer Wiggle.
To fund the revamp, Halfords slashed its dividend by a third and has warned profit will not get back to 2013 levels of £72m until 2016.