Halfords cycle sales dip as summer 2019 struggles to match 2018

A middling summer – particularly compared with 2018’s heatwave – added with the uncertain economic environment have taken their toll on Halfords 20 week financials, which saw cycling and overall performance decline.

Like-for-like revenue for the Group fell -3.2% while cycling dipped a more modest -1.1%. That was expected, said Halfords, given that exceptionally warm and dry summer last year.

Halfords noted “strong growth” in electric bikes and kids cycling, offset by (the continuing trend of) weaker big-ticket discretionary mainstream cycling, playing into a more uncertain economy. It seems likely that Halfords is alluding to Brexit (read our series of No Deal interviews with top cycling industry execs for their take on the UK’s impending EU exit).

Halfords went on to say that gross margin across Motoring, Cycling and Autocentres improved year-on-year, with costs tightly controlled across the business.

220 Halfords stores have had their cycling space refreshed, working to a ‘right range, right store’ approach. The remaining stores will be refreshed during the second half of the year.

Other details included a rise in B2B sales while the march of online continued with a 8.4% year-on-year rise. 85% of Halfords.com sales were collected in store, maintaining what has traditionally been a high percentage for the retailer.

While Halfords cited a rise in e-bike sales, the firm has previously reported that most of the general public do not know you have to pedal e-Bikes.

Graham Stapleton, Chief Executive, commented: “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.”