Covid-19: Cycling uptake boosts sales at Halfords

Halfords has revised the date of the publication of its preliminary results for the year to 3 April 2020. The retailer will now report on its full year on 7 July, rather than 2 June, and profits are expected to be at the upper end of the previously guided £50-55 million.

The retailer said its full-year results were bolstered by better than expected sales in the final week of its financial year during the UK’s lockdown period. Halfords’ 325 retail stores have remained open during lockdown as “dark stores” which prevent customers from browsing.

For the first four weeks of its new financial year to 1 May 2020, the retailer reported a 23% like-for-like dip in sales which is better than it initially anticipated. Halfords puts this down to a strong performance in cycling as the UK “explored alternatives to public transport and looked for ways to stay healthy”. Sales in car batteries and battery care were strong, but overall weakness from this category reflected the reduction in car journeys during lockdown.

“There may be less journeys now but those that are undertaken are even more important,” said Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton. “As the UK's largest provider of motoring and cycling products and services, we take our responsibility to keep the country moving seriously. We remain focused on providing essential services during lockdown, supporting key workers, including serving over 21,000 NHS front line workers so far, as well as the wider population who need to travel. Cycling has provided commuters with an important alternative to public transport and consequently we have seen significant growth within our Cycle2Work programme, cementing our position as the market-leading business in this segment.”

He added: “Whilst trading since our last update at the end of March has been better than anticipated, driven by a strong performance in cycling, considerable uncertainty remains and as such we continue to take all necessary measures to preserve cash and protect our financial position. I am confident the actions we are taking now will put the business in a strong position when we emerge from the crisis and enable us to continue to deliver on our strategic transformation in the medium term.”

Earlier in March, Halfords announced its intention to close its Cycle Republic business, which includes the Boardman Performance Centre. A few weeks later is agreed to transfer 11 of its 22 stores and 85 colleagues to Pure Scooters Ltd. The deal is part of Halfords’ strategic move away from a store-based model in regard to its cycling business, aiming to serve customers in a more economical way.