Halfords says its digital experience will be transformed when it launches a new group web platform in the fourth quarter of its current financial year. Customers will be able to access services from its stores, garages and mobile expert vans through one website.
At the same time, Halfords, a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research, is to trial a new integrated store and garage approach on two sites. The retailer aims to test whether it can reduce costs while delivering similar or more sales from an integrated garage, retail shop and mobile expert base. Currently it has eight mobile expert vans but plans to increase that to more than 100.
The two developments come as Halfords is focuses on services and positions itself as a market leader in motoring.
The update came as Halfords reported first-half sales of £582.7m, down by 2.9% on the same time last year. Retail sales came in at £500m (-3.8%) while autocentre sales improved (+3.2%). Group like-for-like (LFL) sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, were down by 2.4%, with retail LFL sales down by 3.1%. Pre-tax profits of £27.5m were down by 2.5%.
Online sales grew by 10% to account for 22% of Halfords group sales – of which 85% were collected in-store. Group services and associated sales were 2.2% ahead, and B2B sales were up by 24.4% to represent 15% of group sales.
Graham Stapleton, Halfords chief executive, said: “We are clear that our service-led strategy is the right one for Halfords. Our unique position, growing services business and positive macro-customer trends gives us confidence that this is the right time to accelerate investment, leveraging our trusted households brand to become a lear market leader in motoring services.
“Over the medium-term, we expect service-related sales to double as a percentage of group sales and auto centres to represent a materially larger proportion of Halfords’ profits. As a result, motoring will inevitably grow in focus for the group. We are confident that this strategy will drive long-term sustainable growth.”
The retailer said in its half-year results statement: “As macro-customer trends change, customers are seeking more convenience and cars are becoming more complex, accelerating the requirement for easily accessible ‘do it for me’ services. We believe therefore that this is the right time to accelerate the growth of our existing services business by building our growing and unique market position.”
Halfords currently trades from 448 Halfords stores, 26 Cycle Republic, Tredz, Boardman and Giant stores, and from 317 Halfords Autocentres garages.
Image courtesy of Halfords