Year-on-year sales at Halfords have declined by 7.8 per cent, according to the giant's latest financial statement.
However, cycling plays very little role in this sales dip. Along with car maintenance equipment, pedal power has shown sales growth with both adult and children's bikes performing well, backed up by strong high-margin accessory sales.
Overall sales in the past quarter, as predicted, did take a slight hit - falling 5.8 per cent. The company's Irish stores contributed 50 basis points to the like-for-like decline.
Going forward, the chain will focus on slimming its operating costs, although investment in store labour will enable the business to offer greater service. The money taken from the brand's WeFit service increased 30 per cent year-on-year.
David Wild, Chief Executive Officer, commented:
“I am pleased that our management efforts are protecting earnings, re-enforcing the defensive quality of our business at a time of significant sales headwind within our in-car technology business and the most challenging consumer environment experienced in recent memory.
Strategic growth initiatives continue to generate encouraging results; the continued success of our Reserve & Collect proposition delivered over 50 per cent year-on-year growth in our multi-channel sales and the performance of our pilot stores in Central Europe remains encouraging, providing confidence in our accelerated roll out plans for the next financial year.
As we enter 2009, we anticipate that the consumer environment will remain challenging for the whole retail sector. We will continue to focus on delivering good customer service and through Halfords unique, market leading proposition, combined with our ongoing prudent management of margin and costs we anticipate delivering full year earnings growth in line with expectations.”