Halfords beefs up its profit forecasts

HALFORDS expects to beat full-year profit forecasts after a surge in demand for car parts during recent bad weather and its acquisition of Nationwide Autocentres.

The company said its pre-tax profit for the year ending in March would be around £116m – above analysts forecasts of £112.7m.

Sales at shops in the UK and Ireland were up 0.8 per cent in the 11 weeks to 19 March, with a 13 per cent rise in sales of car maintenance products, mainly caused by the impact of the prolonged winter on vehicles.

Halfords – which specialises in car parts and bicycles – said it had “sufficient headroom” in its finances to make another acquisition this year if the right opportunity arose.

Dubbing the company’s performance as “terrific” chief executive officer David Wild said the Nationwide Autocentres car servicing business would be re-branded as Halfords and its current 224 outlets eventually doubled.

The expansion will kick-off with the 80 new outlets already planned over the next three years.
He added: “Our car maintenance category has performed particularly well. The acquisition of Nationwide Autocentres, completed during the quarter, logically extends our successful service proposition and provides a further opportunity for future growth.”

However, the company’s seven stores in Poland and the Czech Republic have been struggling and will close.

Meanwhile like-for-like cycle sales also disappointed, increasing by just 1.9 per cent.