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Sales of bikes up again at UK's biggest bike retailer...

Bike and car accessories retail chain Halfords has announced that it’s looking for 500 new staff, most of them in its cycling departments. And Halfords isn’t just looking for people to fly the tills; it wants “cycling gurus” to beef up its increasing success in bikes, parts and repairs.

No bike retailer gets people frothing at the mouth like Halfords. Mention the chain on a forum and you get a deluge of negativity, followed by a handful of people standing up for the company. Even Chris Boardman, who has sold an awful lot of bikes bearing his name through Halfords’ shops, concedes that their service has been “patchy”.

Fixing that was one of CEO Matt Davies’ main aims when he joined Halfords from Pets at Home in October 2012. A year later Retail Week was crediting Davies with improving efficiency, prioritising service and perhaps most importantly, recruiting the right people by using a new hiring system.

It appears to be working, as Halfords has today reported a 21.3 percent increase in the latest quarter’s like-for-like cycling sales, including a 35.1 percent increase in premium bike sales.

The figures follow a previous substantial increase in Halfords’ bike sales, with revenue growth of 14.2 per cent for the half-year to September 27, 2013.

Browsing the vacancies at www.halfordscareers.com reveals most of the over 400 cycling jobs on offer to be customer service and mechanic roles, predominantly part time, but with a smattering of full-time jobs in the mix too.

Jonathan Crookall, Halfords’ people director, said: “Cycling is at the heart of Halfords, and we’re enhancing our team with the biggest ever recruitment of cycling gurus for our stores. These 500 permanent roles will help us get even more of Britain cycling.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

17 comments

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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Eventually, Halfords will be bikes only. The automobile side has decreased greatly. Seems like the obvious thing to do. Then they'll be as good as Evans.

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Argos74 [372 posts] 1 year ago
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I checked, nothing more than 16-20 hours per week, in my part of the world at least. Can I have 2 20 hour/week ones please?

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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Beaufort wrote:

Eventually, Halfords will be bikes only. The automobile side has decreased greatly. Seems like the obvious thing to do. Then they'll be as good as Evans.

I doubt it. The 3 stores in my area only have about one third of the floor space (probably less) dedicated to cycling. Even then cycling is always shoved upstairs on a mezzanine deck.

If you regularly spend significant money on cycling then I'd be surprised if you spent much of it, if any at all, at Halfords. It wouldn't even occur to me. I'm either at my LBS or on-line.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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Joeinpoole wrote:
Beaufort wrote:

Eventually, Halfords will be bikes only. The automobile side has decreased greatly. Seems like the obvious thing to do. Then they'll be as good as Evans.

If you regularly spend significant money on cycling then I'd be surprised if you spent much of it, if any at all, at Halfords. It wouldn't even occur to me. I'm either at my LBS or on-line.

Hmm, not sure if I agree with that. My local independent bike shops get my business for big purchases like new bikes or stuff I can't do myself, like setting up wheels for instance. But Halfords is really useful for things like tyres for the MTB or brake cables and so on. There's also a decent range of stuff like locks at Halfords and we've had to replace two in the last few months (one lost key and one lock that fell off a carrier and wasn't noticed until it was too late).

I also bought the first two bikes my kids had in Halfords and they're still going strong, the Raleigh having been handed on to a friend for his two sons and now doing service as a club bike and the BMX now being used by the sister of a friend of my younger son. I've seen enough badly set up bikes bought from Halfords with the forks the wrong way round not to trust them completely, but Halfords isn't bad at being a mass market distributor.

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parksey [343 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm in the pro-Halfords corner too. Ok, they probably wouldn't yet get my custom for service work (although this may change with this recruitment drive), and the in-store range is generally at the cheaper end of things, but they've got a large and respectable range of stuff online, and it's all well-priced (more so with the frequent flash sales and offers), and it's almost always available for next day click and collect. Only thing is that the range of actual bikes doesn't do it for me, so that's where the LBS still comes in.

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ajmarshal1 [403 posts] 1 year ago
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I was told by a Halfords worker (after bartering the massive web discount for a track pump in-store) that Halfords online is ran by a separate company to Halfords itself and actually has more to do with CRC. How true this is I don't know.

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jacknorell [942 posts] 1 year ago
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All for the better - more bikes sold and the cycling part of the store is at least visible to car drivers.

Though maybe they need to put up a picture in the assembly area... saw yet another Boardman yesterday with the fork turned the wrong way.

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cplicious [2 posts] 1 year ago
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I wish Halfords would stock Quad Lock as its a great addition to anyones bike!

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Shades [285 posts] 1 year ago
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You have to admit that Halfords are 'on the march'. Bit of a 'chameleon' as a company and the shares are often tipped as a buy. I quite often find that if you need something quickly, they often have something in stock, unlike the LBSs, and they're open a bit later.

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bendertherobot [718 posts] 1 year ago
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They'll get there. Having cycling people with passion instore is a good start.

There's a lot of tat in store but also a lot of decent, basic kit that you need to keep going.

I'm forever buying Clark's cables there in 3 for 2 offers so I can keep the bike looking good.

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don simon [723 posts] 1 year ago
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Cycling to my local Halfords is not ideal as it's on an out of town shopping complex.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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don simon wrote:

Cycling to my local Halfords is not ideal as it's on an out of town shopping complex.

Not sure I understand you there? Bikes are allowed to go "out of town" too.

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ChairRDRF [295 posts] 1 year ago
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Lungsofa74yearold [278 posts] 1 year ago
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My biggest problem is their inability to answer the phone when I'm trying to buy something. Imagine how much more money they would make if they could master that basic principle. To be fair this probably reflects the skeleton staff they run with. So employing a few more staff & getting priorities right will make a world of difference  16 ...

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don simon [723 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

Not sure I understand you there?

I'm quite sure you don't.  16

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indyjukebox [48 posts] 1 year ago
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ChairRDRF wrote:

What I don't like about Halfords: http://rdrf.org.uk/2014/02/12/whats-wrong-with-halfords-cycling-top-tips/

So you don't like a piece of paper that they have printed.

Do you have any actual customer experiences or something relevant to this article to contribute?

If anything, the fact that they want to employ cycling guru's may suggest that they want to employ people to correct the literature they produce, customer experience etc. If so that is a positive thing. Why burden that positive move with your rantings?

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fatbeggaronabike [760 posts] 1 year ago
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Having just popped along to my nearest Halfords to borrow a special BB tool which they allowed me to do (try that at your LBS) I enquired about this cycling guru position with regards to pay and was told by store manager £7.40 per hour.

I don't know many gurus but I don't think they will be interested, if you pay peanuts you end up employing monkeys.

It's a shame really, they are trying to do something about their rep but only half heartedly.