Halfords maintains profit guidance despite weak December sales

Halfords is maintaining its full year profit guidance despite weak sales over the Christmas period.

In its third quarter statement, the motoring and cycling retailer said that while October and November sales were strong, sales in December were much weaker because of mild and wet whether impacting demand for winter products and footfall stores.

It also said that customers were balancing difficult spending decisions in the lead up to Christmas.

The gap in sales was most pronounced in retail motoring, where like for like growth averaged 10.2 per cent in October and November but fell by 15.3 per cent in December.

In January, sales growth in retail motoring has returned to the levels seen in October and November as conditions normalised.

During the 13 weeks to 29 December, total revenue across Halfords Autocentre – the company's car servicing and repair company – and the retail business were up 1.6 per cent.

Total retail revenue was down 0.1 per cent.

Over the full year, revenue was up 9.5 per cent across the group, with autocentres up 22.4 per cent and retail up 2.1 per cent.

The company said that although the cycling and consumer tyre markets are performing "significantly worse" than anticipated and have weakened in the third quarter, assuming they do not weaken further in the fourth quarter, it expects pre-tax profits to fall between its original range of £48 million to £53 million.

“In what remains a very challenging time for our customers, we are pleased to have delivered a resilient performance in Q3," said Graham Stapleton, chief executive. "Against the current backdrop, our continued strategic shift towards needs-based and motoring service-related revenues has never been more relevant."

He continued: "We are continuing to grow share across all of our markets and are confident that the business is very well-placed to drive significant profit growth once those markets recover. Trading in Q4 has begun strongly and we remain focused on everything that we can control, with a number of initiatives underway to achieve further efficiencies within the business, as well as investing in areas where we see real opportunities for future growth.”



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