Motor accessories, cycling and leisure group Halfords will generate full-year profits at the upper end of forecasts ranging between £105m and £112m.
A good performance in higher margin categories and tight cost control helped the retailer beat internal operating profit expectations in the quarter to January 1, when like-for-likes rose 1.2% and total sales 2.8%. In the 13-week period to the same date, UK like-for-likes were up 0.2% and total sales 1.6%. International like-for-likes, however, fell 0.4% in the quarter.
Cold weather stimulated sales of car maintenance products, which were up 8% like-for-like. However in-car technology was challenging – sat-nav sales fell 25% in the quarter year on year.
Services such as fitting, and add-on sales of high margin goods to core product, made “good progress” and helped gross margins.
Halfords chief executive David Wild said that a radio campaign to promote the fitting service had increased sales and that Christmas Day was the “most successful ever” for online operation Halfords.com.
He said: “We believe that Halfords’ brand strength allied to its leading customer offer in attractive markets will deliver sustainable earnings growth.
“While remaining cautious about the wider economic outlook in the near term and its impact on consumer spending, the board is now confident in delivering full-year earnings growth in line with the upper end of market expectations.”