Halfords chief executive David Wild has exited the retailer as it warned on profits following a weak first quarter.

Wild departs the bikes and car parts specialist immediately. Non-executive chairman Dennis Millard will become interim executive chairman until a successor has been appointed.

Millard said: “After careful deliberation, it is felt that now is the right time for a change of leadership in the group to enable it to implement that strategy and maximise the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Wild said: “Now that we have developed the overall strategy that will guide the future of the business over the coming years I feel it is the appropriate time to step down and seek fresh challenges elsewhere.”

Like-for-like sales fell 5.6% in Halfords’ first quarter to June 29, when retail like-for-likes dropped 7.5%. However, like-for-likes at its Autocentres business advanced 9.2%.Total group sales tumbled 5.2%.

The retailer is now planning for retail like-for-likes to remain negative for the remainder of the first half and flat to mid-single digit negative in the second half. Group pre-tax profit for the year is now expected to be between £62m and £70m. 

Halfords reported a weak start to the quarter with like-for-likes plummeting 12.4% in the first eight weeks, followed by a little growth in the following five weeks.

Millard said: “The consumer environment remains difficult and the unseasonal weather conditions this quarter had a direct impact on sales of cycles and outdoor leisure products. In this challenging economic environment the management team will be focused on maximising our trading performance and cash generation, prudent cost management.”