Halfords sold more than one million bicycles in the financial year ending March 2009 – more than one in three of all new bikes purchased in the UK, according to the firm.
Halfords said the credit crunch-bucking results were due in part to growth of the commuter bike sector, highlighting that in the same period car sales dropped by 11 per cent.
Bikes sold through the Government-backed Cycle2Work scheme rose by almost 50 per cent to 34,000 in 2008/09, and Halfords has now sold more than 80,000 bikes through the Cycle2Work scheme since it was introduced in 2005.
“We are delighted with the strength of our bike sales in these tough times on the High Street and our customer feedback suggests that many of them are cycling for the significant economic, environmental and health benefits,” enthused Halfords’ chief executive David Wild.
“The tax benefits of the Cycle2Work scheme means that customers are able to buy higher specification bikes and we have been particularly pleased with sales of our award winning Boardman bike range, designed in partnership with Olympic champion Chris Boardman MBE.”
The Halfords chief went on to confirm the giant retailer's commitment to the sector:
“It was a great achievement when one of Halfords’ Boardman bikes was ridden to Olympic victory by Nicole Cooke in Beijing last year and sales of the Boardman range are now exceeding established premium brands. We remain committed to supporting cycling through our partnership with British Cycling in 2009 and the sponsorship of the road race Premier Calendar series. We are also in our second year of pro team sponsorship supporting many aspiring 2012 cyclists.”
In a pre-close statement for the 13 weeks to 27th March, Halfords said overall sales decreased by 1.7 percent over the equivalent period in 2008 but that cycle sales increased.
Halfords said it was to phase out Bikehut and Cycle Republic retail sub-brands.
"We no longer believe that the stand-alone concept will deliver the absolute levels of financial return demanded of Halfords' investments. Ranges currently only available in stand-alone stores are therefore being transferred to our superstore chain and Bikehut and Cycle Republic stores are being re-branded, where appropriate, to a full Halfords offer via the Metro format."
Some stores will close and will not be rebranded as Halfords Metro but no details have been released of which locations are affected.