Pandemic cycling boom drives Halfords to higher profits

A surge in demand for bikes and cycling equipment during lockdown has helped to drive Halfords to higher profits for the past six months.

Halfords revealed that its pre-tax profits doubled to £55 million for the six months to October 2 as it continued its strong trading through 2020.

Group sales jumped by 9.6% to £638 million over the period, as higher bicycle sales helped to offset a softer market for motoring accessories.

The company said that cycling-related sales across its 440 stores were 54.4% higher than the same period last year, as guidance for people to avoid public transport drove demand for new bikes.

It said it also saw a spike in demand for electric bikes and scooters, with sales from its “e-mobility” division increasing by 184%.

Halfords has said it will increase its investment into electrical motoring as well, committing to having at least one electric car technician at each of its 367 garages, with electric bike and scooter servicers in all of its stores.

It comes as the Government also confirmed on Wednesday that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out by 2030.

Graham Stapleton, chief executive of the retailer, said it is “very pleased” with its trading performance against the backdrop of “one of the most challenging trading environments in recent history”.

“It is a great testament to the strength and adaptability of our business, as well as to the professionalism, hard work and dedication of our colleagues,” he added.

“As an essential retailer and service provider, we are proud to be able to help keep the UK moving during these exceptionally challenging and uncertain times.”

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Its stores have benefited from a cycling boom over the lockdown, with sales of electric bikes and scooters nearly tripling.

“The uptick in cycling interest may be out of Halfords’ hands, but an increasingly knowledgeable staff and excellent inventory management meant it was waiting for customers at the right time, with the right product.”

Shares in the company were 7.4% higher at 281.9p in early trading.

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