Tour de France cycling boom lifts Halfords

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CAR parts firm Halfords is to roll out a chain of cycle shops across the UK as it looks to capitalise on the explosion of interest in the sport.

The group, which has 11,000 staff in the UK and Ireland at 465 Halfords stores and 298 Autocentres, is reviving its Cycle Republic format in London and revealed that it wants the brand in other towns and cities.

The move comes four years after standalone stores under the Bikehut and Cycle Republic names were ditched and returned to the core Halfords estate.

Halfords’ sales in the cycling category were up 16 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the six months to September 26, helping the group’s underlying profits to improve by 10.8 per cent to £49.4m.

It has benefited from demand for bikes designed by former world champion Chris Boardman. There has also been strong demand for Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton’s best-selling UK women’s bike range. Halfords’ own brands have also done well.

The bike business has also been boosted by favourable weather and interest in the Tour de France, which held its first three stages in Yorkshire and in London in front of mass crowds. Around five million people lined the streets of Yorkshire when the Tour de France came to our region for two days in July. The event promoted Yorkshire as a tourism and business destination to a global audience.

The retailer recently bought out the bike business of Mr Boardman, who has designed cycles for Halfords since 2007, for £14m.

Like-for-like sales of car maintenance products and services grew by 3.7 per cent in the first half, with about 980,000 bulbs, batteries and blades fitted in the period, an increase of 5.4 per cent on the prior year.

Car enhancement sales fell by 1.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis, but within this car cleaning grew by 13.1 per cent following a number of promotional offers.

Halfords is in the middle of a three-year investment programme that will see it spend £100m by the end of 2016.

It is upgrading many of its Halfords stores and its Autocentres garages.