Halfords will invest £6m in the new financial year to drive its marketing strategy and enhance its multichannel services, it has revealed in its pre-close statement.
The specialist car part and bike retailer posted flat group revenue, bolstered by a sales surge of 15.6% in its Autocentres for the 13 weeks to March 30.
Retail revenue fell 2.2% while like-for-likes were down 2.3%.
Like-for-like sales in car maintenance were up 3.1% with leisure up 2.2% driven by cycle sales.
However car enhancement like-for-likes slumped 14.5% across the quarter.
in the year to March 30 Halfords group revenue edged down 0.8%, while Autocentre sales increased 13%.
Leisure like-for likes jumped 5% in the year.
“Disappointing” online sales across the quarter reflected declines in Sat Nav and Child Safety, said the retailer.
Halfords said the trading environment will “remain challenging, particularly for the motorist” and in the new financial year it will focus “on areas we have recognised as a competitive advantage”.
This includes cycles, as a result of increased interest driven by the Olympics, and marketing its Autocentres where it is seeing the most growth. It will also focus on its online business.
Halfords plans to roll out 30 Autocentres in the new financial year and it will continue increasing awareness of the service.
Halfords chief executive David Wild said: “The UK consumer outlook for FY13 is uncertain and the continued rise in fuel prices remains a concern.
“Our actions have reduced input-cost inflation, but retailers face a rise in operating costs. While we have historically demonstrated an ability to alleviate these it may be more difficult this year.
“The strong performance from our growth areas provides an attractive route to strengthen our business. We are investing to drive our strong brand even further by developing our fitting resources, increasing marketing and enhancing our multichannel offer.
“Investing in these opportunities will accelerate the evolution of Halfords from a traditional retailer to a contemporary provider of products and services, and will contribute future growth.”
Halfords forecasts the investment will be “broadly profit-neutral” across 2012/2013 but will contribute growth in retail top line and profitability in its 2013/14 financial year.