Motorists cut maintenance but bike sales save Halfords

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The Independent Online

Halfords is suffering as motorists cut back on car maintenance and enhancement products, although its bicycle sales continue to grow.

Like-for-like sales at Halfords stores and online fell 2.8 per cent in its second quarter ending 30 September, marking a deterioration from a 1 per cent fall in the retailer's first quarter.

While robust demand across its bike ranges helped Halfords' leisure sales rise 1.5 per cent in the latest quarter, its car maintenance and car enhancement divisions fell by 3.3 and 8.9 per cent, respectively.

David Wild, its chief executive, said: "People are driving a bit less because they are concerned about affordability and they are deferring maintenance and, if they can, avoiding it. That is why the market is subdued."

But following an advertising campaign, underlying sales at its service business, Halfords Autocentres, rose 3.1 per cent in the second quarter. Mr Wild said: "Autocentres is a significantly less mature operation than the retail business. We have 1 per cent of the market – there is massive potential there."

Total sales at Halfords slipped by 0.1 per cent over the half year. The group expects pre-tax profits of between £53m and £56m for the first half.

Its shares, which have fallen by a third this year, rose 8 per cent to 303p after the update.

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