Halfords to close Cycle Republic business

Bike and car parts retailer Halfords has announced its intention to close its Cycle Republic business, which includes the Boardman Performance Centre.

From today, Halfords is starting a consultation process with 226 members of staff affected by the proposal, and the company said it will mitigate redundancies where possible. The potential sale of the division has not been ruled out, with the retailer saying it is actively exploring this avenue.

Failure to find a buyer will result in circa 20 stores closing during the first half of the financial year, which begins in April. Cycle Republic has lived within the Halfords family for several years, and the fascia was relaunched in 2014 under the leadership of ex-CEO Matt Davies, five years after the business closed its operations down for the first time.

Cycle Republic launched its first standalone website in 2016.

Halfords said its proposal links directly to the strategic update announced in November 2019, which highlighted the business’s intent to improve the profitability of its cycling business. It described the store-based performance cycling operation as having “challenging economics”, adding that exiting “a low-returning, stock intensive business allows us to improve our return on capital whilst freeing up investment and resources to continue to drive our services-focused strategy”.

Halfords is emphasising accelerating the growth of its motoring arm, supported by a new website which was unveiled earlier this year and brings together garages and stores on the same digital platform for the first time.

But performance cycling remains part of the retailer's plans. Halfords also operates Tredz, a predominantly online business, and this is where its focus on the category will now rest, in light of the mooted Cycle Republic disposal.

Halfords said Tredz has a “differentiated and specialist customer proposition and a superior business model in this part of the cycling market”. Mainstream cyclists will continue to be served through the core Halfords Retail cycling division.

Graham Stapleton, Halfords CEO, described the decision to close Cycle Republic as “difficult, but necessary”.

“This proposal is not a reflection of the hard work of our Cycle Republic colleagues, who I would like to thank for their commitment and passion in serving our customers,” he added.