Bicycle & car parts retailer Halfords saw profit-before-tax plunge 23.4 per cent to £41.9 million as retail like-for-like (LFL) sales fell 1.9 per cent in the 26 weeks to September 28th 2012, results released today reveal.
In its retail arm, operating profit before non-recurring items decreased 23.6 per cent compared with the same period last year while total group retail sales dropped 1.9 per cent to £393 million.
However, the retailer said that retail delivered a “robust revenue performance” over the second quarter compared with Q1 while its Autocentres reported a total sales boost of 17.2 per cent over the half to £62.6 million and LFL growth of 10.8 per cent.
Overall, group sales grew 0.4 per cent as a result of solid progress in delivering its strategic objectives, the retailer said, which focus on improving its multichannel offering as well as its product range.
Halfords Chairman Dennis Millard said of the results: “Our Retail performance improved markedly in the second quarter after a difficult first quarter and, with a proactive trading stance, we took full advantage of the opportunities provided by the ‘summer of sport’.
“We continue to be encouraged by the performance and long-term potential of Autocentres.
“We also made good progress on channel and category initiatives; central to this is the priority of building a company-wide customer service ethic as well as investing in training and support for colleagues.”
Online sales soared 21.3 per cent in the first half, equating to 10.5 per cent of retail sales, reflecting the retailer’s investment in its website as well as the introduction of its new 24-hour reserve & collect service.
In October, Halfords announced the appointment of ex-Pets At Home chief Matt Davies to the role of CEO following the departure of David Wild in July and the retailer noted the importance of investing in staff training and support following the recruitment of over 450 new fitting staff in order to improve service quality and drive growth.
Millard said that the company has made “good progress” with its strategic projects.
He added: “Our second-half Retail planning assumptions remain unchanged and cautious given the prevailing pressures on the consumer as we approach the important winter and Christmas trading periods.
“We continue to plan for a full-year Group Profit before tax and non-recurring items of between £66 million and £70 million.
“We have a strong platform for sustainable growth; the management team retains its focus on active trading, cash generation, prudent cost management and the delivery of strategic objectives.”