Halfords delivered a “robust performance” in its fourth quarter as the cold weather boosted car maintenance sales but impacted cycle sales.
In the 11 weeks to March 29, 2013 Halfords group like-for-likes edged up 0.4% with retail up 0.3%.
In the period, car maintenance like-for-like sales surged 10.4% as they were boosted by the prolonged winter season. Halfords said it had recorded a 26.3% increase in sales of bulbs, batteries and windscreen blades.
But the cold weather led to an 8.8% fall in cycling like-for-like sales and a 5.5% fall in its travel solutions category, although this was slightly offset by demand for snow chains and shovels.
Halfords said premium cycle sales were “resilient”, while online parts, accessory and clothing sales soared 26.5% ahead of the full-scale launch this year.
Overall online sales increased 13.4%, reflecting a 24.7% increase in sat nav sales.
The Autocentres, its garages division, jumped 0.8% as it opened 12 sites in the period but the retailer said fleet sales remain under pressure.
Halfords said the group’s financial position is “sound” and it continues to clear old stock to invest in the new financial year.
The retailer anticipates it will hit group profit before tax expectations in the range of £68m to £72m.
Halfords chief executive Matt Davies said: “This was a robust performance demonstrating how the balance of our business can offset some variations in the weather. Cycling and travel solutions were impacted in the period but we have a strong offer ready for the spring and summer periods.
“We are focused on significantly improving the service we offer customers and this emphasis will be central to our future investments.”
He added that he will outline future plans to “secure sustainable revenue growth” at the full-year results on May 23.
In the 52 weeks to March 29, 2013, Halfords group like-for-likes increased 0.3%, while retail like-for-likes declined 0.7%. Like-for-like sales across the Autocentres jumped 7%.