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UK News Halfords bumps up cycle supplies as 'unprecedented demand' lifts profit

14:35  01 october  2020
14:35  01 october  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Halfords has said it expects to surpass profit targets after strong summer sales momentum driven by demand for cycling and staycations continued into September. It said it now expects to post pre-tax profits above £55 million for the first half of the current financial year.

Halfords ' boss Jill McDonald insists "more could be done" to improve cycle lanes and encourage take- up as the retailer revealed that profits had been punctured by disappointing bicycle sales. Rising demand for car and bike repairs failed to bolster profits at the retailer, Halfords revealed today.


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Halfords said it has been ramping up supplies of bicycles as "unprecedented demand" extends into the autumn even after the end of the peak summer season.

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Halfords is one of the retailers to have benefited from changing consumer behaviour during the pandemic, but the chain said that winter would bring about a “natural fall-off in the relative strength of cycling and staycation products” and warned that profits might be lower in the second half of the year.

a man standing next to a bicycle: Halfords said cycling sales rose by 46% © Reuters Halfords said cycling sales rose by 46%

The retailer, which also sells and fits car parts, was boosted by a surge in demand as many Britons stayed in the UK during the holiday period, with the pandemic restricting foreign travel.

But it said it had continued its strong growth into September - and is now recruiting for hundreds of motoring technician roles both at its stores and auto centres.

a group of police officers riding on the back of a car: Halfords has benefited from people using cars for short journeys as well as cycling © Getty Halfords has benefited from people using cars for short journeys as well as cycling

Halfords said it expected to report half-year profits of more than £55m, up from previous guidance of £35-40m - and the new guidance sent shares 20% higher.

The business has benefited from a trend towards staycations and also stands to grow sales for car parts as some motorists shun public transport and use their own vehicles for short journeys.

Halfords said like-for-like sales rose by 22% in the five weeks to 25 September including a 46% increase for cycling products "reflecting the strength of our unique proposition and continual improvement in supply to meet unprecedented levels of demand".

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As the uncertainty of supply or demand grows, the required level of safety inventories increases. The expected shortage per replenishment cycle (ESC) is the average units of demand that are Shortage occurs in a replenishment cycle only if the demand during the lead time exceeds the ROP.

In microeconomics, supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It postulates that, holding all else equal, in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good

There was also a 7.5% rise for car products in its stores, as well as an 18% upturn in revenues from its autocentres.

"With the substantial growth we have seen in our motoring services business across both retail and autocentres, we have launched a national campaign to recruit hundreds of skilled technicians," Halfords said.

However it said it remained cautious on the outlook for coming months, with potential impact of rising coronavirus cases, the end to the furlough scheme and Brexit talks "very uncertain".

The update comes after Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane hailed the strength of the UK's economic recovery - driven by robust consumer spending - while dismissing "Chicken Licken" pessimism about the future.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "It turns out that against Halfords' expectations we are not a nation of fair weather cyclists after all.

"Having recently guided for the sales surge in bikes to wane as we head towards winter the company's decision to raise guidance now shows it is continuing to see very strong demand."

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