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Halfords CEO to become head of Tesco's UK & Ireland operation

Matt Davies to join service focused turnaround plan at supermarket giant

Matt Davies, CEO at Halfords since 2012, is to leave the car parts and bikes retail giant to take up the role of UK CEO at troubled supermarket chain Tesco.

Davies joined Halfords Group in October 2012 and immediately set about trying to improve its fortunes with a focus on staff training and retention, in-store presentation and on-line.

Since then Halfords has returned consistently high growth, driven by increases in its cycling sales. Most recently, Halfords announced that cycling sales had increased by 16 per cent during the first half of its current financial year.

Halfords does not appear to have just been riding on the increased popularity of cycling in urban centres such as London (which some in the bike trade say is not affecting sales).

On Davies' watch, the company renewed its relationship with Boardman Bikes, an agreement Chris Boardman said had depended on Davies' plans for the business, then bought the brand. Last year, Halfords launched its own high-end range, 13 Bikes and opened its first central London store under the Cycle Republic brand.

Tesco, on the other hand, has not had a good couple of years. A well-publicised £250m accounting problem in its profit forecasts was just the tip of the iceberg as its share price fell 50 percent after a decrease in profits and market share.

Tesco group chief executive Dave Lewis was brought in to try and stem the tide of disasters. Davies' appointment is in line with the comments he has been making about putting customer service first.

Tesco announced today that it will close 43 stores — mostly Tesco Express convenience stores — and put on ice plans for 49 new "very large" stores.

Halfords chairman Dennis Millard thinks Davies is the right man to turn Tesco around. He told Bloomberg News that Davies understood the need for a service-led culture and at Halfords had built a strong management team, making the company a more desirable place to work.

“When we were looking for a CEO, Matt hit the middle of the bullseye and I suspect Tesco will feel the same way,” said Millard. With Lewis making public comments about prioritizing service to customers “it almost looked like Matt had written the script.”

According to Bikebiz Millard said that Davies had made an "outstanding contribution to the business," and added: "We have set a clear direction, built significant momentum across the organisation and are making good progress."

A statement from Davies said:

"My decision to leave has been very difficult. I have really enjoyed my time at Halfords, working with a great team of people across the business, helping to create and deliver a clear service-focused strategy. I am fully committed to driving the business over the next few months before I depart."

Although Davies is a keen cyclist, it does seem unlikely that cycling will play any part in his plans to turn Tesco around.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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Airzound | 9 years ago

This guy obviously never bought a bike from his own company! If he did it was probably flat pack and built by some one else, or indeed he bought a proper high end bike from a proper LBS. He could afford it being on huge salary as CEO of Halfords. I would have loved to have heard the conversation when he had to take it back …………………..

PandAttack | 9 years ago

Gotta say, the halfords around mine is absolutely massive, and all the people are extremely friendly. Certainly the bike mechanics are excellent at servicing. But the stores always empty.. how the hell are they able to continue growth when no one goes in?!

But yeah, Tesco is really bad a customer service. Till people and general staff are nice.. but the people at 'customer service', you know, the actual important people are always rude as f***

darrenleroy | 9 years ago

Because of my job I have to buy stock in a Tesco Metro every single day of the week. I fucking hate it.

Sub5orange | 9 years ago

Hate Tesco car parks, I have nearly been run over twice on my bike by drivers only seeing the car park space at Tesco.

Rich71 | 9 years ago

I hope you have more success with your shelf stackers than i had with my rear derailleur being fucked up in one of your stores


notfastenough | 9 years ago

You've fitted my bananas the wrong way round!

andyp | 9 years ago

Cue labels upside-down on cans  3

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