Halfords interim statement, covering the 15 week period to January 11th 2013, saw like-for-like cycling revenue down 1.6 per cent.
Overall, total revenue for Halfords Group over the 15 weeks was up 1.6 per cent.
Over a longer period (the 41 weeks up to Jan 11th), cycling was up 0.7 per cent, with total revenue for the Group up 0.8 per cent.
In the retail side of the business, car maintenance was a star performer in the 15 week period, up 6.1 per cent.
Halfords said that premium cycles – a category boosted this morning with the addition of Pinarello to its portfolio – and cycle repairs performed well towards the end of the 15 week period, but couldn’t bring cycling’s performance back into the positive after an initially weak market for older-kids’ and adult mainstream cycles.
"We are pleased with the growth achieved in all of the service-led Retail opportunities we had prioritised for increased investment, particularly Car Maintenance," commented Matt Davies, chief executive.
"Cycling sales initially disappointed but performed more strongly as the holiday period progressed and we were particularly pleased that momentum has been maintained in sales of Premium Cycles. Autocentres revenue continues to grow as we focused investment on the new-centre opening programme, capacity for future growth and motorists’ awareness of the brand."
Davies indicated that cycling P&A and clothing will be a focus in the near future.
"We aim to improve significantly the Halfords customer experience and develop category opportunities where our brand is under-represented in areas such as Cycling Parts, Accessories and Clothing; we are on track to deliver this expanded offer in the next financial year. Together with this and a number of other initiatives outlined earlier in the year, we aim to drive sustainable revenue growth and deliver value for our shareholders."
With cycle sales stats thin on the ground (at the moment at least), the media at large will likely use Halfords results as a barometer for the wider performance of the UK cycle industry over Christmas.