After a period where cycle sales had dropped 16 per cent in the run up to Christmas, Halfords bike business has returned to growth.
The positive news for the giant retail chain comes in its Pre-Close Trading Statement, covering the 13 weeks to April 1st 2011.
Cycle sales grew 8.7 per cent like-for-like in the period. Online sales grew significantly – by 52 per cent – reaching 9.3 per cent of retail sales.
Halfords Autocentres remain a focus for the firm, which opened eight in the period, to bring the national total to 240 centres.
“We believe the environment will remain difficult for customers,” admitted CEO David Wild. “We are responding with a trading strategy that offers great value, expert services and many new products; including the re-launch of our entire Premium Cycle range. In Halfords Autocentres we will build on the good early results since rebranding.
“Our plans are supported by the launch of our new campaign “That’s Helpful That’s Halfords” which will reinforce our unique service proposition. These initiatives give us the potential to trade more strongly in the year ahead.
“We are pleased to announce the launch of a share buyback programme. The
strength of our cash generation and our balance sheet means that we can both return capital to our shareholders, maintain our dividend policy and retain the flexibility to invest when we identify the right opportunity.”
Previously, Halfords had blamed a temporary slow down in cycle to work sales for its previous poor performance in the weeks leading to Christmas, a slow down that does now appear to be short lived, going by the improved results. There's detail of independent bike dealer sales in the cycle sector from ActSmart in the April edition of BikeBiz arriving in the post to the trade from today.
There's ActSmart anaysis of independent bike sector sales in January here.