Motor accessories and cycles group Halfords posted a 9.6% group sales rise in its first quarter, reflecting its acquisition of Nationwide Autocentres.

But group like-for-likes fell 1.9% and at the core retail division slipped 2.1% in the period to July 26.

Halfords said there had been a sluggish start to the quarter because of poor April weather and uncertainty before and after the election, but that full-year earnings growth should be in line with expectations.

UBS, which retained its neutral stance on Halfords, said that the achievement of cost saving targets is vital. “The delivery of these cost savings is central to our view that Halfords will meet year-end guidance, even if sales growth continues to disappoint,” said UBS.

Halfords’ joint-house broker, Investec, advises buy and maintained its “enviable track-record on delivering shareholder returns should hold it in good stead.”