Halfords doubles profits despite lockdown, people driving less and MoT extension

"Halfords has been one of those lucky beneficiaries of the pandemic"

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Halfords has emerged as one of the winners from lockdown as it reported its first half profits were more than double last year's.

The cars and bikes firm reported revenues of £638.9million in six months running to October 2, with profits before tax of £55.4million – up 101.5% on the same period last year.

Chief executive Graham Stapleton said: "We are very pleased to have achieved such a strong first half performance against the backdrop of one of the most challenging trading environments in recent history.

"It is a great testament to the strength and adaptability of our business, as well as to the professionalism, hard work and dedication of our colleagues."

As an essential retailer, Halfords has been able to stay open all year
(Image: Halfords)

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And with people driving less, it was cycling that led the way.

Cycling revenue growth finished 54.4% higher like for like, with the strongest performance in e-mobility and cycle services.

"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," Stapleton said.

"Despite the headwinds we have seen in motoring, with UK traffic 30% lower than pre-Covid-19 levels and the impact of the MoT deferment, our 'Road Ready' campaign and the investments we have made in our motoring services business have enabled us to increase market share and grow the business in Q2."

Halfords has cashed on on cycling
(Image: Halfords)

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David Kimberley, stock market analyst at Freetrade, said: "Halfords has been one of those lucky beneficiaries of the pandemic.

"With lockdowns in place, many of us rushed to bike shops to buy both a means of transportation that would keep us away from others and give us some much-needed exercise.

"What has been surprising is that this has managed to continue for so long."

But he couldn't see it lasting much longer.

"The problem for Halfords is that these tend to be rare purchases for most customers — unless it gets nicked or breaks, you aren’t going to buy a bike for a long time after getting one," he said.

But that doesn't mean there's no strings left to the bow.

"A brighter spot is the firm’s e-bike and scooter sales. These have proven hugely popular in countries around the world and the huge surge in sales that Halfords has seen suggests the same could happen here too.

"If the government pulls its finger out and starts creating proper laws for them, this will likely be a strong area of growth for Halfords."

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