Belfast Telegraph

Halfords planning for 20 autocentres in NI

By Sean Pollock

Halford Group, the UK car and bicycle equipment retailer and garage operator, could open 20 autocentres in Northern Ireland.

The company also has plans to open a further 80 autocentres in the Republic.

The plans were revealed in the company's latest interim results presentation for the 26 weeks to September 27 and a map of the proposed autocentres included around 80 garages across the Republic, and close to 20 in Northern Ireland.

During the period, Halfords' revenues dropped nearly 3% on last year, to £582.7m.

The decline in its retail business was offset by growth across its autocentres, with the garage chain growing revenue to £82.7m from £80.1m.

As a result of the stronger revenues across the autocentre business, Graham Stapleton, chief executive of Halfords Group, said the company planned to significantly grow the number of garages it operates, with Ireland set to become a "big part of the opportunity".

He added that the autocentres remain on track to deliver a third consecutive year of profit growth, and operating margin has doubled in the past two years to around 4%.

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Mr Stapleton presented an indicative map produced by the company, which showed where the garages could be located.

It is understood that the expansion by Halfords is part of a new strategy to become more focused on services rather than sales in its traditional stores.

Halfords said it plans to grow the number of garages from 317 to 550 across both the UK and Ireland.

It is understood this new plan will not be completed for around three to five years.

Halfords said: "Our recently updated strategy reiterated that motoring services would become a significantly more important part of the Halfords Group offer.

"We have laid out plans to increase our autocentre footprint to 550 garages over the medium term, and believe Ireland could play a part in that growth."

Belfast Telegraph