Car parts and cycle specialist Halfords is ramping up its product offer and multichannel initiatives, as profits plunged 23.4% to £41.9m for the 26 weeks to September 28.
Group like-for-like sales slipped 0.1% as retail like-for-likes dipped 1.9%.
Halfords delivered a 0.4% increase in group sales to £455.6m, with retail falling 1.9% to £393m but sales at its Autocentres surging 17.2% to £62.6m.
Online sales soared 21.3%, comprising 10.5% of retail sales, against 8.6% in the same period last year. Halfords said the growth reflected the investment and improvements made to its multichannel proposition, which has included the introduction of 24-hour click-and-collect.
Halfords said a strong second quarter helped recover the fall in the first quarter as it took advantage of the “summer of sport”, following the increase in cycling popularity generated by the Tour de France and the Olympics.
But the retailer is cautious about the second half and expects to deliver full-year pre-tax profit of between £66m and £70m.
Halfords chairman Dennis Millard said: “Our second-half retail planning assumptions remain unchanged and cautious given the prevailing pressures on the consumer as we approach the important winter and Christmas trading periods.
“We have a strong platform for sustainable growth; the management team retains its focus on active trading, cash generation, prudent cost management and the delivery of strategic objectives.”
The retailer appointed new chief executive Matt Davies, former boss of Pets at Home, in the period, replacing David Wild.
Halfords said it has made “good progress” on its three-pronged strategy to be ‘the friend of the motorist’, ‘the best cycle shop in town’ and ‘the starting point for great getaways’.
Focusing on improving its products, Halfords has recruited a whole new team to “aggressively drive” cycles, cycle parts, accessories and clothing. The retailer will relaunch this category next year when it will increase the number of products it sells from 1,700 to 13,000. It has also signed up key brands, such as Adidas, Northwave and Lezyne.
At 30 of its Autocentres Halfords trialled Sunday opening and it opened five new centres in the period, taking the total to 265. Another 21 centres are planned for launch before the end of the year.
A business development arm was created to better leverage fleet opportunities at the Autocentres. An online booking service was trialled in the period and is set to be rolled out nationally in the second half, which is expected to enhance the customer experience and make the system more efficient.
Halfords also increased its laboratory stores from three to five, to trial out new concepts. More are planned in the future. The stores are trialling different formats, customer interactions and the use of in-store ipads.