Bicycle & car parts retailer Halfords saw group like-for-like (LFL) sales climb 0.4 per cent in its fourth quarter as unseasonably cold weather strengthened car maintenance sales while damaging cycle sales, results released today reveal.
Retail LFLs grew 0.3 per cent in the 11 weeks to March 29th 2013 and 0.5 per cent on a total basis while LFL car maintenance sales jumped 10.4 per cent, though cycling sales declined 8.8 per cent over the period.
Cycling suffered “a delayed start to the season” as a result of adverse weather conditions the retailer noted, despite the resilience of premium cycle sales, signalling an end to the much-lauded revival of the sport following the London Olympics.
“The boost of the Olympics now seems a lifetime ago,” Matt Piner, Research Director at analyst firm Conlumino commented.
“The initial signs of a renewed interest in the activity have tailed off, and it seems much spending was instead merely brought forward, with the subsequent adverse weather ensuring the spike did not last.
“Fortunately car maintenance sales were more suited to the environment, both in economic and climate terms, with a stronger performance here propping up overall sales as consumers looked to keep their vehicles on the road.
“This now provides a base for Halfords and the group will need to continue evolving its offer, establishing which parts of the business have the best long-term prospects.”
Halfords’ travel solutions category suffered amid poor weather and a reduced demand for outdoor products, with LFLs down 5.5 per cent though its popular Autocentres offering continued to witness growth.
Although fleet sales continue to feel pressure, the retailer opened an additional 12 stores over the period as total sales increased 7.8 per cent and 0.8 per cent on a LFL basis.
Online sales leapt 13.4 per cent in the quarter, boosted by sat nav sales which grew 24.7 per cent and Halfords CEO Matt Davies believes this highlights the well-rounded nature of the group’s proposition.
Noting that the retailer will announce plans for sustainable revenue growth in its results next monoth, Davies added: “This was a robust performance demonstrating how the balance of our business can offset some variations in the weather.
“Car maintenance sales were strong as we helped motorists cope with the freezing conditions and this endorses our strategy of investment in our unique wefit offer.
“Cycling and Travel Solutions were impacted in the period but we have a strong offer ready for the spring and summer periods.
“We are focused on significantly improving the service we offer customers and this emphasis will be central to our future investments.”