Halfords is to start selling mobile phones online and in 100 of its largest stores as it seeks to expand its in-car technology offer.

The cycles and car maintenance retailer will sell mobile phones that have sat-nav and music capabilities handy for use in cars.

While Halfords said the move does not signify a major push into the mobile phones market, the decision to stock handsets will pit it against retailers such as Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U.

Halfords category manager Chris Corbin said the retailer’s mobile phone proposition complements its “strength as the leading retailer of hands-free car solutions in the UK”.

A well-placed source said: “It’s not Halfords intention to make inroads into the phone market.”

In its full-year results to April 3 Halfords said its in-car technology category had suffered most in the recession, with revenue “substantially impacted by the performance of sat-nav devices” as price deflation hit margins.

The source added that the move into mobile phones is “another way of maintaining Halfords’ position in the sat-nav market. It’s a smart move and keeps it on the front foot”.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said: “It’s a good move and a logical step if Halfords can leverage its reputation in sat-navs into the mobile phones market. But it’s a very competitive market. Halfords will be up against Carphone Warehouse and Tesco, as well DSGi. It won’t have it its own way but it is the specialist on the automotive side of the market so it would be remiss if it didn’t stock them.”

Halfords trialled selling mobile handsets in a small number of stores at the end of last year. The roll-out to 100 stores is an extension of this trial.

20:20 Mobile will supply Halfords with the phones, with brands including Nokia, T-Mobile, Orange and 3.