Halfords reported a rise in first-quarter sales today in the retailer’s final update before boss Jill McDonald pedals off to Marks & Spencer.

Much like Jill McDonald’s latest appointment, the retailer’s latest results divided opinion.

At first glance, the results look positive. Total and like-for-like retail sales both gained momentum, turbocharged by an 18.3% spurt in sales across the specialist retailer’s service arm.

However, City analyst firm Peel Hunt flagged that the group results were up against easy comparatives the previous year and McDonald flagged that Halfords had benefitted from the falling value of the pound and consequential rise of the staycation.

It’s not clear whether the tyres at Halfords are fully inflated for the months to come, when UK shoppers will have less clement weather and time off to pump their spare cash into bike rides and ride-pimping.

A successor for McDonald is yet to be announced and no timeline has been provided for when one will be appointed.

The cycling and motor specialist will need decisive leadership to drive up sales across its autocentres and offset currency fluctuations – perhaps Browett, Kristiansen or Belsham could be next in the driver’s seat?

Also today, furniture retailer Loaf poached Boden director Neil Barley for a chief operating officer role and Gear4Music’s sales hit a high note at the half-year mark.

Quote of the day

“Stark challenges lurk around the corner for the retail industry. Purchasing decisions are very much dictated by a shrinking pool of discretionary consumer spend, with the amount of money in people’s pockets set to be dented by inflation and statutory rises in employee pension contributions in a few months’ time”

– BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson

Today in numbers


The rise in Waitrose’s sales in the week to September 2.


The rise in Gear4Music’s sales in the six months to August 3.

Wednesday’s agenda

Look out for the results of Sports Direct’s hotly-anticipated AGM, which could see shareholders vote against the re-election of chairman Keith Hellawell.

Grace Bowden, reporter