Investment in stores and formats sparks surge
Sales at Halfords jumped 9.1 per cent to£744 million and like-for-likes rose 6 per cent in the 52 weeks to March 30, following significant investment in new stores and formats.

The retailer said that pre-tax profit rose 8.4 per cent to£80.9 million for the year.

The group operates from 426 stores, including two standalone Bikehut stores, which were opened in Brighton and Putney during the year with encouraging results. The retailer said it plans to operate six Bikehut stores by the end of the year and aims to roll out a further 50 in the UK.

Halfords chief executive Ian McLeod said: 'We believe our market-leading position can be further enhanced by the development of at least 130 [Halfords] stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.'

Halfords's smaller store format, known as the Neighbourhood store, operates from 15 shops and the retailer plans to open a further six in the next financial year.

Internationally, the retailer is aiming to open its first store in Prague by the end of June, with a further two openings in the third quarter. The retailer said: 'The combination of our wide and extensive ranges, high levels of customer service and a full garage servicing offer, will bring a highly differentiated retail proposition to the Czech market.'

McLeod said: 'These results demonstrate a further year of strong sales growth from Halfords; a positive momentum that has continued into the new financial year. A combination of sales and margin initiatives across all categories, investment in new stores and new formats and the delivery of our unique service advantage through the hard work of our colleagues continues to give us confidence in Halfords' growth prospects for the forthcoming financial year.'

Investec analyst Mark Charnock said: 'Trade is extremely strong, up over 9 per cent for the past nine weeks. Overall, we see this as a good statement underlining some of the defensive characteristics of Halfords in an increasingly jittery consumer environment. We see some scope to raise forecasts on the back of the update.'