Halfords is a widely known UK retailer which operates in cycling, car maintenance and related accessories. Recent growth has been driven by the cycling business as the popularity of the activity, for both leisure and transport purposes, has increased in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic.

The retailer trades through around 400 eponymous stores and did operate a further 22 stores under the Cycle Republic brand before exiting the business in early 2020 to focus online through Tredz and Wheelies.

In-store ‘wefit’ cars and ‘werepair’ cycles advice and fitting services are an important differentiator for the increasingly service-led retailer. The company operates in-garage servicing and auto repair through its 350-plus Autocentres business, which has been strengthened through the recent acquisitions of independent garage chain McConechy’s Tyre Service, online business Tyres on the Drive and Universal Tyres.

The business is being driven forward under chief executive Graham Stapleton and his ‘to inspire and support a lifetime of motoring and cycling’ strategy.

As well as embarking on a store transformation programme, the retailer has launched a new group web platform giving customers access to an integrated services offer across mobile, stores and autocentres. 

Halfords is also looking to combine its estate of garages, retail stores and mobile vans to increase its services footprint “to over 1,200 locations in the medium term, including 550 garages and 200 mobile vans” and drive cross-selling opportunities between retail and services.

From mid 2020 - in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic - it has been accelerating the right-sizing of its physical estate, which had already been underway by mid-2021 had closed 80 “low-returning” stores and garages.

In terms of technology, the retailer is focusing on using artificial intelligence to build a detailed picture of its customers. It is also moving part of its data estate to the cloud and investing in a new replenishment system.

Innovation rating: 3

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