Halfords expects to beat full-year profit forecasts and is exiting its loss-making European businesses.
The motor accessories specialist’s like-for-likes edged up 0.8% in the 11 weeks to March 19, when turnover rose 1.3%. For the 50 weeks to the same date, like-for-likes rose 1.3% while revenue increased 2.6%.
Halfords chief executive David Wild expects full-year earnings before exceptional items will be ahead of market expectations, coming in at between £114m and £116m rather than the previous consensus of £112.7m.
Halfords’ seven stores in the Czech Republic and Poland will be shut so the retailer can focus on domestic growth opportunities in retail, from newly acquired Nationwide Autocentres and online.
He said the Central European arm was “losing money and couldn’t move forward to a viable scale”.
Wild said he would “keep an open mind to overseas markets” but is “very unlikely” to open in new markets in the immediate term. Wild said he was “very pleased” with the performance of car maintenance, which increased 13% like-for-like. Bicycles traded below expectations, rising 1.9%.
Nationwide Autocentres’ like-for-likes rose 5% in the four weeks since the acquisition.
Singer analyst Matthew McEachran said: “With its defensive, needs-driven offer and market-leading positions the Halfords retail business looks well positioned while the Autocentres offer the group a significant new growth angle.”