Halfords has announced surging sales in the first half of the financial year, reporting a 116% rise on last year which amounted to a £56 million pre-tax profit. The cycling side of its business played a crucial part, with Halfords' CEO claiming bike sales are even beginning to accelerate again.
Selling more bikes than any other UK retailer, Halfords continued trading as an essential retailer during the first lockdown (and the current lockdown) which contributed towards a 54% rise in cycling revenues during the period. Profits have also slightly surpassed expectations according to a late September forecast, which predicted a figure of around £55 million. Sales of e-bikes and scooters were up 184%, and Halfords has committed to having a specialist electric technician in every store by the end of the financial year to meet the increased demand for electric bikes and cars.
CEO Graham Stapleton told The Standard that profits for the first half were equal to the whole of the last financial year, and is confident a greener transport recovery will continue after the pandemic despite some uncertainty for the second half: "There is absolutely no sign of any slowdown in growth [of bike sales] that we are seeing - if anything more recently it accelerated again", said Stapleton.
"And for the mid to long term the government are investing enormous amounts in cycling... there are so many reasons for the bike growth to continue, I can't see it stopping. It might slow a little from the huge growth we are seeing now, but I think there will still be growth going forward."
Halfords has decided against declaring an interim dividend, most likely due to uncertainties with Brexit and the second lockdown as outlined in its profit forecast back in July. Even so, the company says that sales in the first five weeks of the second half have continued to be strong, with "good growth and increased market share in cycling, alongside resilience in our motoring products and services businesses”.
Stapleton also told Retail Gazette: “We have worked hard to capitalise on the cycling market tailwinds by sourcing more stock from existing and new suppliers, as well as launching new products and brands to serve the high level of demand for our cycling products and services."
The big boys aren't the only ones reporting accelerating profits amid the increased popularity in cycling during the pandemic - London-based bike subscription company Buzzbike has just announced a 121% spike in sales in the first week of the second lockdown, while cycling luggage specialists Restrap has doubled its staff after reporting a huge 270% increase in orders.
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.