Halfords has released its 2016 financials for the 52 weeks to April, and is putting a brave face on lacklustre cycle results, which are down by one percent. However, CEO Jill McDonald reported that Halfords is increasing its market share.
"This was a solid performance and we gained market share in both our motoring and cycling divisions," she told investors.
"In cycling our sales improved in the second half of the year and cycle repair delivered good growth. The recent acquisition of Tredz alongside the continued expansion of Cycle Republic and the launch of our new Laura Trott range demonstrates the strength and breadth of our cycling proposition."
Halfords' financial report blamed inclement weather for the lacklustre results: "The weather was not helpful, with both a wet summer and a mild winter, including the warmest December since records began."
Other factors impacting on cycle sales included "particularly strong comparatives and discounting across the market."
However, Halfords said bike sales returned to growth in the final two quarters of the financial year.
Halfords saw pretax profits fall to £79.8million down from £83.8million in 2015, as revenues dipped to £1.02billion from £1.03billion.
McDonald complained about the lack of bike market stats: "The cycling market is not particularly well documented, with data difficult to come by, reflecting the fragmented nature of the operators within it. As such, over the summer of 2015 we conducted our own extensive, bespoke customer and market research. This identified that Halfords had market shares of around 24 percent for bikes, 15 percent for parts & accessories and 10 percent for cycle repair."
She added: "Our analysis suggests that the market declined in the last 12 months, with Halfords making share gains. This decline was principally attributed to the summer of 2015. Since then we have observed a gradual stabilising of market conditions, notwithstanding that it may take some time to return to consistent growth and the weather continues to have an impact on the timing of customer purchase. However we remain confident in the long-term growth prospects of the cycling market.
"Participation in the UK is still low and there is large scope for new cyclists as well as increased spend from existing cyclists. This is supported by significant government support in London and in many other cities, as well as consumer trends towards healthy activities."