Despite the doom and gloom on the High Street, including the news that e-bike and consumer electrics retailer Best Buy is the latest retailer intending to close in the UK, bicycle sales have proved strong for Halfords.
While Group revenue was down 0.1 per cent for the retailer in its half year financials, cycling remained relatively buoyant, seeing a rise in sales.
Premium, ‘mainstream’ and children’s bicycles have been strong for Halfords, it said, as have accessories sales. The retailer also cited the launch of the new Carrera range in July.
In the 26 weeks to September 30th Leisure sales, incorporating cycling, were up 3.9 per cent like-for-like. Car maintenance was down 3.1 per cent in the same period, while car enhancement also dropped – by 9.8 per cent.
"In a challenging market Halfords has delivered a robust sales performance in the first half,” said chief exec David Wild.
“Our new marketing campaign, ‘that's helpful, that's Halfords’ has built awareness of our unique value offer to customers, which blends good prices, quality and innovative products with the expert service of our colleagues in each category in which we operate.
“Within stores we have been encouraged with the customer response to our innovations in Cycling, where we have grown sales in Premium, Mainstream, Children's bikes and Accessories.
“Motorists continue to be affected by inflationary rises in fuel and insurance costs, so their spending on maintenance has been subdued. We are, however, delighted with the growth of wefit in stores and the improvement in the sales performance of our Autocentres business.
“The strength of our balance sheet and our cash generation mean that we are maintaining our interim dividend whilst continuing to return cash to shareholders through our share buyback programme. It is impossible to predict when trading conditions will ease. Despite this we are continuing to invest in value for customers, creating the right platform for long-term sustainable growth."