James Moore: Here's how Halfords can do its bit for safer cycling
James Moore is the Independent's Associate Business Editor and writes the Outlook City comment column from Tuesday to Friday. He also has a keen interest in disability issues and when not attempting to further injure himself playing wheelchair basketball.
Friday 06 April 2012
Outlook It is hardly a great surprise that Halfords is finding life difficult. Most retailers are. But one bright spot in yesterday's rather gloomy pre-close trading update was the performance of cycling, with sales up 5.7 per cent during the current financial year.
There could be better to come too: Halfords is predicting a buoyant year for bikes thanks to the 2012 Olympics and this is one business where the Games' promise is likely to be realised. Visibility is crucial for sports outside football (which is constantly front and centre). Just look at the impact of Wimbledon. Prior to the tournament Britain's tennis courts are empty. Afterwards it sometimes feels like even a rare ranking British player might have to wait in line.
Success (which the latter rarely provide) also doesn't hurt and British cyclists have given every indication that they are unlikely to disappoint over the summer, having served it up to the Australians yesterday.
So here's one area where a bit of JPMorgan-style corporate lobbying would be not only legitimate but welcome: Halfords using some (or more) of its budget to push for better protection for cyclists on Britain's roads, which can feel like death traps for those on two wheels.
After all, it is in the company's own interest: your customers aren't much good to you if they're killed or so badly maimed that the prospect of using a bike ever again (if there even is one) makes their nearest and dearest go green.
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