Halfords has said that growth of online, services and B2B sales helped make up for the effect of a challenging retail environment over the spring and summer.
The motoring to cycling equipment retailer, ranked Leading in IRUK Top500 research, this week reported group revenue down by 3.9% in the 20 weeks to August 16 compared to the same time last year. On a like-for-like (LFL) basis that strips out the effect of store openings and closures, sales were down by 3.2%. Retail sales were down by 4.8% in total, or 3.9% LFL, with LFL motoring sales down by 5.9% and cycling by 1.1%. It put the fall in sales down by poor summer weather and weaker consumer confidence but sales less discretionary categories such as motoring services had been more resilient.
Growth came online, where sales grew by 8.4%, and 85% of Halfords.com orders were collected in stores. Meanwhile, B2B sales saw “strong double-digital year-on-year growth”, and service-related sales, including new cycle check and care services, also grew.
Halfords says it’s on track to launch a new integrated website where shoppers can buy from its retail business and its auto centres business at the same time. Over the 20 week period, the percentage of shoppers buying across both its retail and auto centres businesses was 10% up, year-on-year.
It has also improved its presentation of cycling equipment in 220 stores, while launching more convenient services including eight Halfords mobile expert vans to offer services beyond the store. In its auto centres garages it is trialling motoring services on demand.
Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “Despite sales growth in group services, online and B2B, we have seen our overall sales impacted by cooler, wetter weather and weaker consumer confidence year-on-year. The market has been challenging but we are pleased to have seen increased market share in our core categories.
“In the second half, we believe the economic and political uncertainty will continue to impact big-ticket discretionary spend and, therefore, as in the first half, we will continue to focus on improving gross margins and controlling costs.
“We set out a new strategy for the business last year and while it is still early, we have already seen encouraging signs of progress. We remain confident that it is the right strategy to drive the sustainable growth of the business."
Image courtesy of Halfords