Belfast Telegraph

Wet weather puts brakes on Halfords cycle sales

Retailer Halfords saw its bike sales recovery skid to a halt as it was hit by wet weather and the timing of Easter.

The c ar parts to bicycles firm posted a 4% drop in like-for-like bike sales in the 13 weeks to July 1.

A stronger performance from its car maintenance and travel solutions ranges failed to offset the bike disappointment, with overall first-quarter retail sales 1.2% lower.

But Halfords said that, with the timing of Easter stripped out, retail sales were a more modest 0.2% lower.

It marks a setback in the revival of its bike sales, with Halfords having battled to turn around after a dire performance last summer left full-year cycle sales 0.9% lower.

But Halfords said it had faith in a decent peak summer cycling season ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with new ranges from British hopeful Laura Trott and cycling star Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Jill McDonald, chief executive of Halfords, said: " We had good sales growth of premium bikes, but cycling sales across the quarter were impacted by both the timing of Easter and poor weather, particularly in April.

"We look forward to the peak summer cycling season."

She added that the Brexit vote had created "uncertainty" and the group cautioned that further falls in the value of the pound against the US dollar could hit profits further.

The group revealed in early June it expected a £3 million knock to profits from the weak pound, which has hit 31-year lows against the greenback since the EU referendum decision, and said in its latest update that ongoing falls in the pound "may have a small further impact later in this financial year".

Halfords posted a 2.3% rise in comparable care maintenance sales after seeing strong demand for bulbs, blades and batteries, while double-digit growth for child safety seats boosted travel solutions sales, which were up 4.4%.

It posted another impressive performance for its Autocentre garages , which saw like-for-like sales jump 3.1% higher - its 11th quarter in a row of sales growth.

But ongoing falls in sat nav sales left it nursing a 4.2% drop in its car enhancement offering.

Halfords said recently-bought online cycle firm Tredz was performing well.

The group splashed out £18.4 million in May to acquire Tredz, as well as Wheelies, the UK's largest provider of bicycle replacement for insurance companies, under plans to ramp up its online offering in the premium market.

Combined, the two South Wales-based companies pulled in revenue of £32 million last year.