Motor parts and bikes retailer Halfords remains optimistic about the outlook for the year despite a slump in car-related sales.
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Car maintenance like-for-likes plummeted 11.7% in the 13 weeks to April 1, which chief executive David Wild said reflected the different timing of snowfall between this year and last, meaning Halfords was up against tough comparisons.
“It was weather related,” said Wild. “Overall I’m feeling positive.”
Bike like-for-likes improved 8.7%. Halfords is introducing cheaper boxed bikes to ensure it “appeals to everyone”, said Wild.
Online sales rocketed 52% and a sixth of web transactions were made on mobile devices.
Wild said Halfords had “edged down” entry price points but overall prices had risen. “We’re feeling the pressures of rising costs,” he said.
Group total sales in the quarter remained flat, but increased 4.6% in the 52 weeks to April 1. The retailer expects to make pre-tax profit of between £124m and £127m in the year and group sales of £869m.
Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert said Halfords would “just miss” consensus expectations. She said: “While Halfords’ strong cash flow and product offer mean it will ride out the recession, we believe the UK retail business is mature and the Autocentres business is not large enough to take up the growth baton.”
Wild said: “From a consumer spending standpoint things are tough. Our job is to respond to what customers want and adapt trading plans to meet their needs.”