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Company says profits dented by Brexit, but they're hopeful families will cycle on 'staycations'...

Halfords has warned that without better infrastructure, bike shops could fail to capitalise on underserved markets in the UK.

In its latest group statement it said that although there is potential for market growth, given that women in particular cycle far less than their European counterparts, safe bike lanes would make this far more likely.

According to BikeBiz, the company reported a small sales increase but a 10.5 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £71.4m for the year to March.

It said although Brexit had weakened the pound, it was hopeful this might mean more ‘staycations’ where families camped and cycled.

"Much of our sales are in needs-based categories that are more resilient to macro-economic cycles and our discretionary categories, such as cycling, camping and travel solutions," said the statement, "and could benefit from an increase in the number of people choosing to stay at home rather than holidaying abroad; a trend that we observed in 2009."

It added that although it was optimistic, the company had concerns about the cycling landscape.

"The cycling market is highly fragmented," continued the Halfords statement. "There are over 2,500 bike shops in the UK, the majority of which are independents. The changing marketplace and growth in online is making it increasingly difficult for these independents to be competitive. Our research has identified that the number of bike shops has declined by nearly 10 percent over the last year."

Last month we reported how Halfords and Cycling UK have announced a three-year partnership through which they hope to get millions of people cycling more frequently. Free bike maintenance and cycling classes will be run through the spring and summer as part of the Big Bike Revival.

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive at Cycling UK said: “This great new partnership with Halfords will really help Cycling UK to get more people cycling more often. With over 460 Halfords stores adding their support to that of our 67,000 members, we will help to get more Brits moving more often.”

The Government recently announced that it would invest £1m in the Big Bike Revival scheme as part of its £1.2bn cycling and walking investment strategy.

Tuohy added: “With the Government’s recent announcement of over one billion pounds of investment in walking and cycling showing real intent, Cycling UK and Halfords are proud to champion a similarly ambitious and achievable target to get over five and a half million people cycling more.”

Simon Irons, Halfords Group Cycling Director said: “For Halfords partnering with Cycling UK seemed like a natural fit, given we share many of the same aspirations. We’re really excited to work with Cycling UK to encourage people to cycle, at all levels and across all ages. We’re proud to make a commitment to giving participation in cycling across the UK a real boost.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.