Motor accessories retailer Halfords has posted a slowdown in the rate of its like-for-like sales growth, as it emerged that its chief executive is leaving.

For the 17-week period since the start of its second half, Halfords’ like-for-likes rose 2 per cent, against strong comparables. The 440-store retailer’s like-for-like sales jumped 4.1 per cent for the 43 weeks to January 25 and total sales climbed 7 per cent.

In a statement, Halfords said its multichannel sales were aided by the pre-Christmas launch of its reserve online, collect in-store service, which has delivered almost 100,000 orders.

It said gross profit was in line with expectations and it remains on track to deliver a full-year gross margin percentage in line with the guidance previously given.

Chief executive Ian McLeod, who is to join Australian grocer Coles as managing director, said: “We continue to enjoy growth in each of our key sales categories, underlining our strength, destination-store status and market leadership.

“Following a challenging autumn, like-for-like sales have strengthened, giving us confidence in our prospects for the rest of the financial year. We remain well-placed to deliver full-year profit in line with expectations.”

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb said: “In terms of like-for-like sales, the 2 per cent rise for the past 17 weeks would be good for most retailers, but it is below the 3 to 4 per cent expected.”

Halfords boss quits to join Coles