Halfords profits rise helped by strong bike sales

Victoria Pendleton unveils her new bike range
Image caption Bikes endorsed by Victoria Pendleton have helped to lift sales at Halfords

Car parts and bicycle retailer Halfords has reported a rise in half-year profits, helped by a strong increase in sales of bikes.

Pre-tax profits rose 5.2% to £44.6m for the six months to 27 September, with total sales up 7.7% to £490.6m.

Revenues from bike sales rose 14.2%, and Halfords said its car maintenance business had also done well.

Shares in the company jumped 9% in early trading following the better-than-expected results.

Halfords added that the hot weather in the summer, a new website and store makeovers had helped to boost its results.

It also said it was seeing the benefits from changes in staffing, a new hiring process and employee training programmes.

Matt Davies, chief executive at Halfords, said: "These are early days in our three-year transformation plan but it is encouraging to see the retail business deliver a strong first-half performance."

He said the company made the most of the better weather in the summer with "compelling offers" in its cycling range. Halfords sells bike ranges endorsed by cyclists such as Chris Boardman and Victoria Pendleton.

However, Halfords' autocentres unit remained a weak spot, with sales falling by 2.1%.

Mr Davies said the car centres had faced several challenges, but the company had a "clear investment plan in place" for future growth.

Kate Calvert, an analyst at Investec, said: "While still early days in Matt Davies' three-year recovery strategy, these results should help to reassure doubters that Halfords' brand still resonates well in consumers' minds."

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