Bicycle and car parts retailer Halfords Group is officially launching 240 re-branded autocentres today, as the firm looks to dominate the garage servicing market.
Halfords purchased the properties from Natonwide Autocentres in February 2010 in a deal worth £73.2 million, and the re-branding of each of these stores is now complete.
A national media campaign will attempt to bring the Halfords Autocentre name to public recognition, through nationwide advertising with the “That’s Helpful, That’s Halfords” strapline.
David Wild, Halfords CEO, commented: “This is an historic step for Halfords and our customers. We are well known as the leading car parts retailer and we are now well positioned to rapidly develop our brand in the garage-servicing sector.
“Our centres will become a familiar landmark and a trusted brand that motorists can rely on to look after their cars and help reduce the cost of motoring.”
The addition of these new centres makes Halfords one of the the UK’s leading independent car servicing networks, and it hopes to target 600,000 customers, both private and fleet, per year.
Reciprical deals will be offered to customers of its retail and vehicle servicing businesses, with money spent on Halfords.com earning money off an MOT for example.
Halfords estimates that the garage servicing market is worth £9 billion at present but dominated by independent operators.
It hopes to reach 400 centres in total by opening 30 each year until 2015, which it says will create 1000 new jobs.
Wild continued: “Market research is very positive on the entry of the Halfords brand into the car servicing sector.
“Customers trust us to deliver expertise, good service and value and we will be the first operator able to provide this consistently and transparently across the whole country.”
Trading at its retail arm was disappointing over the Christmas period, with like-for-like sales down 6.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 31st.
Commenting on those results published in January, Investec Securities analysts Katharine Wynne and David Jeary predicted Halfords’ “profit-before-tax expectations to be at the bottom of the current range (£127 million-£135 million).”