Halfords is a widely known UK retailer which operates in cycling, car maintenance and related accessories. Recent growth had been driven by the cycling business as the popularity of the activity, for both leisure and transport purposes, increased and was accelerated by the pandemic. However, motoring grew to represent 59.4% of retail revenue in the 2021 financial year as traffic began to normalise. 

The retailer trades through around 400 eponymous stores and operated 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,  Lodge Tyre, 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 has been combining its estate of garages, retail stores and mobile vans to increase its services footprint for some time, and the motoring arm of the business was given a further boost by the acquisition of automotive service and repair services chain National in late 2021. Following this, Halfords had - including retail stores - a combined total of over 1,400 fixed or mobile motoring services locations.

From mid 2020 Halfords has been accelerating the right-sizing of its physical estate. By mid-2021 it had closed 80 “low-returning” stores and garages.

Innovation rating: 3

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