Halfords has hailed a “solid” start to its financial year as sales increased despite the “challenging retail environment”.

The cycling and car parts business posted a 2.8% increase in like-for-like sales across the group during the 20 weeks to August 17.

Within its retail division, same store sales advanced 2.6% during the period, while like-for-likes at its autocentres grew at the quicker rate of 4% year on year.

Halfords new boss Graham Stapleton, who is set to unveil his strategy for the business on September 27, said retail sales were boosted by new ranges of workshop and car cleaning products.

Retail cycling sales grew 0.8% in like-for-like terms, as a “good” peak summer period offset “poor weather” at the start of the year and the impact of an early Easter.

Online sales jumped 11.3% during the period, while 85% of all orders placed on Halfords.com were collected in-store.

Halfords maintained its profit guidance for the full year, which is expected to be “broadly in line” with its 2017/18 fiscal year.