Bicycle & car parts retailer Halfords recorded flat sales in the 15 weeks to January 11th 2013, its interim management statement has revealed.
Like-for-like (LFL) sales were also flat in the 15 week period, while LFLs for the whole group were up by one per cent, boosted by a 5.6 per cent increase in LFL autocentre revenue.
Car maintenance products were the retailer’s best sellers, seeing a 6.1 per cent increase over the 15 weeks, and initial weak sales of bicycles for adults and older children improved towards the end of the period, leading LFLs to fall just 1.6 per cent.
Commenting on the results, Matt Davies, Halfords’ CEO, said: “We are pleased with the growth achieved in all of the service-led retail opportunities we had prioritised for increased investment, particularly Car Maintenance.”
“Autocentres revenue continues to grow as we focused investment on the new-centre opening programme, capacity for future growth and motorists’ awareness of the brand,” he added.
Halfords has also improved its multichannel offer, as online sales now account for 10.9 per cent of total retail revenue, making the retailer one of many to have enjoyed record online sales during the Christmas period.
Underlining the importance of multichannel, Matt Piner, Research Director at analyst firm Conlumino, commented: “The fact that the internet is now even playing such a significant role in such a service-based, tangible area of retail shows just how substantial its impact is becoming.
“The challenge for new CEO Matt Davies is now to restore momentum in cycling and continue to improve performance of the more discretionary car enhancement and travel solutions categories, while adapting the retailer to the demands of a consumer who is shopping across multiple channels and yet remains cautious with their spending.”
Halfords operates more than 460 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland, and there are also 271 Halfords Autocentres providing car servicing and repairs to customers.
As a result of these latest figures, the company has upgraded its profit-before-tax predictions for the year ending March 29th 2013 to be in the range of £68-72 million, what it describes as “a modest upgrade”.
Discussing plans for the year ahead, Davies said: “We aim to improve significantly the Halfords customer experience and develop category opportunities where our brand is under-represented in areas such as Cycling Parts, Accessories and Clothing; we are on track to deliver this expanded offer in the next financial year.
“Together with this and a number of other initiatives outlined earlier in the year, we aim to drive sustainable revenue growth and deliver value for our shareholders.”