Olympics help Halfords sales pick up speed

Kasmira Jefford
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BRITAIN’S success in the Tour de France and in the Olympics boosted sales of cycling gear at Halfords during the summer, helping the retailer to beat forecasts in the second half.

Sales at stores open more than a year rose 4.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 September, while like-for-like cycling sales outperformed with a 14.7 per cent rise in the quarter.

“We were particularly pleased with sales of our Pendleton and Boardman bikes, both are designed by Olympic gold medalists and the range has resonated strongly with customers during the period,” chairman Dennis Millard said.

Halford’s Autocentres car servicing arm also reported a like-for-like sales jump of 12.4 per cent, the strongest growth since it was acquired in 2010.

Shares closed up 14 per cent last night on the better-than-expected figures and also on the announcement that it has appointed a new chief executive, the former Pets at Home boss Matt Davies.

Halfords’ former chief executive David Wild quit abruptly in July after four years at the helm, following a slump in first quarter sales that was in part blamed on the wet weather.

Investec analyst Bethany Hocking said: “[Davies] is a very strong hire, in our view, and his background should enable him to successfully implement Halford’s service-led strategy.”

The firm now expects first half pre-tax profits to be £40m to £42m –ahead of a consensus of £35.8m – and for full year profits in the £62 to £70m range.