Staycations drive cycle sales at retailer Halfords

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The Independent Online

The car accessories-to-bikes retailer Halfords said half-year pre-tax profits will be up by a fifth this year as bike and car accessory sales were boosted by cash-strapped Britons holidaying at home.

Over the half-year to 2 October, Halfords said sales of car roof boxes were up by 20 per cent and that it had sold out of tents by the end of the period. David Wild, the chief executive, said: "We have benefited from the recent increased consumer interest in the UK holidays."

Mr Wild also singled out the company's children's and premium Boardman bikes, developed by the Olympic champion Chris Boardman, as particularly strong sellers. His comments came as Halfords said it would deliver half-year pre-tax profits up by about 20 per cent to between £59m and £61m for the half year to 2 October, compared to £49.1m last year. Mr Wild said the retailer's car maintenance business continues to "trade strongly".

Jeremy Batstone-Carr, analyst at Charles Stanley, said: "Cycling has been the best performing sub-segment. We believe cycling remains a structural growth market in the UK, driven by health, environmental and anti-congestion considerations. Halfords remains well-placed to exploit the trend, given its market leading position of 30 per cent share."

Adjusting for the impact of Easter, Halfords posted total half-year sales up 2.8 per cent while same store sales rose by 1.1 per cent. Mr Wild said: "Sales have increased because we have grown share in almost very category." He added that gross margins have continued to improve year on year. Mr Wild said he expected sales of children's bikes to continue doing well.

He added: "For us, Christmas is all about children's bikes and we think they will do very well for us." However, he was more cautious about the outlook for 2010. "I think it is uncertain, but we are cautiously optimistic. But it's a fragile recovery and we will have to get over things such as VAT going back up and unemployment."