Halfords today said online sales more than doubled in its latest full year, with overall sales and profits up strongly.
The motoring-to-cycling equipment retailer’s online sales grew by 110% to £580m during the year to account for 44% of group revenue. The growth came as online demand grew quickly (+61%) as a result of lockdowns and social distancing. Halfords had launched a new web platform in the final quarter of its previous year, which meant it was well placed to react to the spike in demand.
New online features included guided selling, visibility of local stock availability, personalisation, recommendations, helping to lift the retail conversion rate by 37%, and increasing the number of customers viewing autocentre content tenfold.
During the year the retailer closed all 22 of its Cycle Republic stores, and reduced its Halfords stores by 42. The first step had the effect of directing more traffic to its performance cycling business Tredz, whose sales grew by 66% and profits by £7m on the previous year.
Overall, Halfords today reported sales of total £1.3bn in the year to April 2. That’s up by 13.1% from £1.2bn (£1.155.1m) in the previous year. Retail sales grew by 9.4% to £1.03bn, and by 14.6% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store – and business – openings and closures. Cycling sales grew strongly (+54.1% LFL) while motoring sales declined (-12.1% LFL) as car journeys fell (-25%), although motoring-related services, including replacing bulbs, blades and batteries, performed more strongly.
Autocentre sales of £252.5m were 9.7% ahead of the previous year, with sales from mobile expert vans up by 200%.
Overall, services grew by 23% to more than £370m, making up 29% of group revenue, while business-to-business sales were 40% ahead, and accounted for 17.9% of group revenue.
Top-line pre-tax profits came in at £99.5m, 85% up from £53.6m a year earlier. At the bottom line, after one-off costs of £35m, mostly related to the closures of 55 “low return” stores and garages, pre-tax profits were £64.5m, 240% up from £19.4m last time.
Graham Stapleton, chief executive of Halfords, says: “It was a year in which Halfords’ transformation into a service-led business was rapidly accelerated and we were particularly pleased to achieve a record revenue performance in the strategically important area of motoring services. We have continued to increase our scale and capacity in this area and customers can now receive our services at almost 800 fixed locations, or at home from one of our 143 mobile expert vans.
“We have also continued to lead the transition to an electric vehicle future by investing in training and technology. By the end of the current financial year, we will have trained more than 2,000 of our store and garage colleagues to service electric cars, bikes and scooters.
“Demand for our services remains strong in the new financial year, and our touring categories are currently performing particularly well given the trend towards staycations this summer. In the longer-term, we remain confident in the future prospects for the UK’s motoring and cycling markets and our ability to compete strongly in both.”
Halfords is a Top100 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, and Tredz is Top250.