Halfords bids to drive up sales in tough climate

TWO of the UK high street’s most traditional names, Halfords and Mothercare, report results this week with the City using them as a barometer for the consumer climate.

The companies have been trying to navigate choppy economic waters as government budget cuts and a looming VAT hike take their toll on cash-strapped shoppers. Halfords has seen sales of Satnavs fall while its car maintenance arm, Autocentres, has been trading below expectations.

Management has forecast profit in the range of £67m to £69m for the half year – a rise of 11 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Keith Bowman, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Group financing arrangements and the company’s to date progressive dividend policy may prove features. Prior to the results, market consensus opinion currently denotes a strong hold.”

Meanwhile baby and children’s retailer Mothercare will report its half-year result on Wednesday. The group’s international sales were outstripping those in the UK, with further expansion in India in the company’s sights. The results come in a week where the British Retail Consortium will issue sales volumes figures, which are forecast to have risen by a slender 0.3 per cent in October.