Halfords knocked as cyclists and campers take a raincheck

 
Kasmira Jefford
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ref="http://www.cityam.com/company/halfords">HALFORDS said campers and cyclists taking a raincheck after one of the UK’s wettest Aprils on record has taken its toll on recent trading, as it reported a 27 per cent fall in full-year profits.

The leisure and car parts retailer saw its share price slide by 12.65 per cent yesterday after what chief executive Andrew Wilde described as “ a very disappointing” start to the year.

However, he sought to reassure investors and said that while the group had not seen the usual seasonal demand for cycling and outdoor leisure products, some of those sales were deferred rather than cancelled, and it expected a stronger performance as the year progresses.

Underlying profit for the year ended March 2012 was £92.2m, which, while down, was slightly ahead of already downgraded forecasts. Retail sales fell 2.3 per cent to £752.3m.

The £1.4bn a year cycle market is one of Halfords’ key targeted growth areas including fitting services and autocentres. It said relaunched bike ranges helped grow sales in the division by 9.7 per cent.

This was offset by a 4.5 per cent decline in like-for-like sales of its car maintenance products as hard-up motorists drove fewer miles.

Analysts yesterday cut their full-year forecasts for the group by five per cent and now expect profits of £78-80m.