Halfords group sales grew 6.6% in its third quarter, which included the festive period, driven by “significant growth” in its cycling category.

In the 15 weeks to January 10 the bikes and car part specialist revealed group like-for-likes up 5.2%.

Sales at its retail business increased 6.2% with like-for-likes up 5.9% and sales at its Autocentre business surged 9.2% as like-for-likes edged up 0.1%.

Halfords chief executive Matt Davies said: “Our retail top-line performance was robust in a period of comparatively mild weather. Cycling was again the standout performer, with our customers engaged by refreshed ranges, supported by a renewed customer-first promotional stance.”

Halfords recorded a 19.5% like-for-like increase in cycling in the period, which was led by accessories and children’s bikes. It said this performance will have impacted its gross margin.

Davies added that car maintenance, where like-for-likes increased 3.4%, recorded a fall in demand for winter products and there were low sales across car parts but he said there were record levels of fitting across its bulbs, windscreen wiper blades and batteries service.

Car enhancement like-for-likes fell 4% but improved year-on-year as car cleaning outweighed a decline in sat nav. Like-for-likes across its travel solutions jumped 1.7%.

Online sales surged 13.8%, which now comprises 11.7% of total retail sales.

Davies said the Getting into Gear strategy is “progressing well”. Halfords opened 12 stores in the period and relaunched its website.

Halfords also revealed it has appointed Andy Randall as the managing director of its Autocentre garage business. Randall joins from skin clinic chain Sk:n where he was chief executive for eight years. Previously he has also worked as the managing director of Staples UK. He takes up the post in March.

Davies added: “We are focused on friendly expertise-based service for our customers and Andy has a clear track record of delivering successful service-based propositions.”

Halfords sales up 6.6% pedalled by strong cycling sales