Yesterday, Halfords chairman David Millard took the helm of the business as it revealed chief executive David Wild was departing amid a profit warning in its first quarter update. Retail Week speaks to Millard about his interim executive chairman role and who he wants to lead the business’ new strategy.
Retail Week: You said Halfords needs a new boss to implement the retail and service strategy going forward. Why?
Dennis Millard: I would like to emphasise that David and I have worked together for a number of years and it is a sad event but we have to look forward and to our three pillared strategy.
The strategy we have devised is sound and strong and we believe it is up to us to deliver it and its what the market expects.
Halfords is a unique business opportunity. Our competitors are straight retailers, garages and Kwik Fits. We are number one in retail and we do things others can’t do, such as our Wefit service which no-one else offers anywhere else in the UK and potentially the world where you can drive in buy your bulbs, blades or batteries and get it fitted for free.
60% of our revenue comprises of either service or service assisted sales which is a fairly high proportion.
RW: What kind of person are you looking for?
DM: Someone that has experience of retail and service or just someone that has only retail experience but also a passion for customer service.
We have appointed Egon Zhender as head hunters. We would like to appoint someone sooner rather than later but the most important thing is to find the right person.
In the interim I’m now stepping into the breach. Fortunately, I am endowed with a very good management team that don’t need handholding.
The roadmap for the business, to a large extent, has been laid out.
RW: How will you fit it in with all your other commitments?
DM: I will work seven days per week.
They are all non-executive roles and the businesses are doing very well.
I have been on the board of Debenhams for six years and have been a very active chairman [of Halfords].
Halfords has huge potential and it is up to us to deliver. The team are very upbeat and ready for the fight.
RW: Why did sales take a hit in the first quarter?
DM: Leisure suffered the most which was expected due to the vagaries of the weather, having said that we had some wins as well as some bloody noses.
In premium cycles, people who are more professional will cycle despite the weather so we did well there. And the cycle to work schemes have also been very strong, Where it suffered the most was the hobby cyclist. We had a hit on tents and travel too.
On the positive side maintenance and servicing revenues were up 27% . We feel good about that and we’re focusing on growing at that speed .