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.