Halfords has reported its 20th consecutive year of sales growth as it benefited from an increase in customer car maintenance and a resurgence in the trend for cycling.
Sales climbed 7.2 per cent to£797.4 million in the year to March 28 and like-for-likes rose 4.3 per cent. Pre-tax profits jumped 11.5 per cent to£90.2 million.
The retailer said there was strong growth in all categories in car maintenance, car enhancement and leisure.
Halfords acting joint managing director Nick Wharton said the strongest performance was in car maintenance as UK car registrations dropped this year and customers maintained their cars more often. He added that there is “now little doubt about the resurgence of bikes in the UK”.
The retailer, which trades from 450 stores including 17 in the Republic of Ireland and three in the Czech Republic, believes there is capacity for another 100 Halfords stores across the UK. It will open between 15 and 20 Halfords shops a year.
Openings will be split between Halfords’ neighbourhood store format – of which there are 24 stores open – and the retailer's larger format.
During the year, it opened 29 stores including five relocations. It plans to increase its Bikehut store count from six to a national pilot of 10. It will also launch a Bikehut web site this year.
After the success of its pilot stores in the Czech Republic, where it opened three stores in the past year and will open a further three this year, it will also launch its first store in Poland this autumn and is considering Slovakia and Hungary.
Following the launch of Halfords’ Reserve and Collect service to lift its multichannel offer, the retailer has notched up 200,000 customer reservations.
Wharton said current trading was “broadly where expected”, with sales of leisure products “gaining momentum”. He added that the retailer was somewhat more resilient to the downturn as cars are a needs-based and destination purchase with average transactions of only£20.
The retailer is yet to appoint a new chief executive following the departure of Ian McLeod in February.