As predicted by BicycleBusiness and now confirmed by todays Company Annual Report for Boots The Chemist, owners of Halfords the car-and-bikes retailer is going to be giving 35 of its stores in the Midlands an IBD-style makeover.
With an investment of £21 million, the new formats will have mezzanine floors, expert staff poached from IBDs (aka the ad in Cycle Industry, but NOT BikeBiz!) and a raft of high quality brands.
Halfords has 410 stores in all, comprising 317 superstores, 80 high street stores and 13 motorway stores. Around 20 stores are being opened a year.
According to the Boots Annual Report (for year ending 31st March 2000) Halfords is accelerating its development to make the most of its advantages: greater scale than its competitors and a trusted brand.
Halfords continues to relocate from high street shops to superstores and to expand its own brand ranges. After extensive research and trialling, it is introducing new store formats to increase its attractiveness to higher spending auto and cycle enthusiasts.
Strong sales performance and continuing profit growth were driven by product development and the introduction of more specialist ranges, says the report and boasts that Halfords is outperforming the market in cycle sales.
Key factors were the launch of GT, one of the world's biggest premium cycle brands, into all superstores, and success in trading customers up to new suspension technology.
Despite Halfords marketing staff saying the retailer does not gun for IBDs, its clear Halfords sees great growth potential in high-end bikes, previously IBD home terrirtory:
Halfords enjoys increasing credibility with higher spending cycle enthusiasts, crows the report.
The business priorities of Halfords are stated to be:
* better satisfy the car and bike enthusiast
* improve our service to customer traffic
* extend the Halfords brand and skills into related areas
* further expand our chain of superstores, ensuring that the size of new and existing stores matches the needs of their catchment areas.
Halfords is the best performing of the eight Boots companies.
Turnover from continuing operations
Total Retail + 4.7% (2.0% like for like)
Boots The Chemists + 4.1% (1.8% like for like)
Health and Beauty + 5.3% (3.0% like for like)
Halfords + 7.7% (5.0% like for like)
Boots Healthcare International + 6.1% (8.5% comparable)