Halfords boss Matt Davies does not believe Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish crashing out of the Tour de France will damage sales.
Davies said he did not believe the British cycling stars being forced to pull out will make a “massive difference” to its cycling business because the British public “are falling even deeper in love with cycling”.
The Tour de France has been “incredibly helpful” to its business, said Davies, and Halfords has aimed to capitalise on it through initiatives including giving away tens of thousands of goodie bags in its stores. The activity was supported by a “summer of cycling” TV campaign.
The summer of cycling theme was chosen to highlight both the Tour de France, which this year came to Yorkshire and London, and the Commonwealth Games.
Davies denies the Commonwealth Games will be a “sideshow” and argues “any major sporting event with cycling on the TV will be really positive for us”.
Halfords has posted a 21.3% increase in cycling like-for-likes in the quarter to June 27 with all areas of its cycling business contributing to the rise.
Online cycling sales increased by 40% year-on-year with premium biking online sales surging 81% for the quarter, while kid’s bike sales jumped 23% as a passion for cycling sweeps the country.
Davies said: “As a country we are falling even deeper in love with cycling and recognising the joy that flows from it, the health benefits and the power of the bike as a commuter tool.”
Halfords’ strong cycling performance is primarily being driven by the public buying more bikes rather than more expensive bikes.
Spin-off ranges including clothing and nutritional products have also contributed to growth, with clothing jumping by 72% for the quarter and nutrition exploding by in excess of 2000% from a small base.
Davies added: “We have generated enough like-for-likes to effectively prevent the fall in profitability that we expected at the launch of Getting into Gear strategy and we will get to a point soon where our cost base rises modestly and a modest like-for-like growth will feed through to our bottom line.”
Getting into Gear is a three-year-long £100m investment programme that also requires suppliers to contribute financially, which has raised concerns with the Forum of Private Business (FPB).
Davies denied there was a dispute and claims “the exercise is pretty much complete” and added that is “business as usual”.
He said: “Our relationship with our suppliers is as good as it has ever been and what our suppliers can very clearly see is significant growth that they are enjoying and recognise it is in everyone’s interest to continue to invest to continue to secure that growth.”