Halfords says that strong sales of bicycles and cycling accessories mean it is ahead of plan in its turnaround strategy and expects another sales boost with the Tour de France beginning in Yorkshire in July. The retailer, which unveiled its 2013/14 full-year results on Thursday, has also urged the government to improve cycle safety to encourage more people onto bikes .
The bikes-to-car-acessories group’s total sales increased by 8 per cent in the year to 28 March 2014 to reach £940 million, with pre-tax profits after non-recurring items rising 2.3 per cent to £72.6 million.
Cycling delivered what chief executive Matt Davies, quoted in the Guardian, described as “an absolute stand-out performance” – in the year as a whole, like-for-like sales, which exclude the impact of new stores, were up by 19.4 per cent, and by an astonishing 41.6 per cent in the final three months of the period.
He attributed the growth to factors including better weather last year compared to the preceding 12 months, better stock availability, an improved range of products, and moving away from price promotions. He also highlighted improvements in staff motivation and training.
Further growth is expected this year with the first three stages of the Tour de France taking place in the UK, and Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games.
However he warned that for growth in cycling to be maintained, the government needed to invest in making roads safer for riders.
"We believe that focusing on cycling is a sensible use of tax-payers money," he explained, adding that the company is lobbying the government on adding cycling to the national curriculum in schools.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.