Halfords speeds up closures of stores, losing 60 this year
HALFORDS will hasten store closures this year because of coronavirus, with up to 60 sites earmarked to shut.
Before the pandemic, it was shutting around six sites a year, but earlier this month, the firm said it was accelerating the “right-sizing of the group”, which had already been in the pipeline.
The car parts and bicycle retailer is in the process of renegotiating a raft of leases that are coming up for renewal.
The closures will include both garages and retail shops, with staff expected to be moved to other shops.
Sales at Halfords edged up 0.3pc for the year to April, with underlying profits of £55.9m. The surge of bikes in lockdown helped offset the fall in its motoring revenues. It also sold more electric scooters with sales up by 220pc compared to last year. Bike sales rose 57pc in the 13 weeks to July 3 as people sought to avoid public transport.
The firm warned this month that in a worst-case scenario, it could make a loss of £10m or zero profit next year.
Halfords is a so-called essential retailer, so it could have kept its shops open during lockdown, but it chose to shut them for a while to put in place social distancing and safety measures.
It has 446 Halfords stores, three Tredz and Giant outlets, 371 garages and 75 new mobile service vans, which repair cars on people’s driveways.
Halfords is poised to enjoy an MOTs boost after the Government demanded drivers renew them by October.
Graham Stapleton, the chief executive, has implemented a turnaround plan focusing on motoring and cycling to capitalise on the rise in popularity of electric vehicles.
Halfords planned to sell fewer power tools and camping equipment, with a view to become a bike and motoring specialist.
It said it had seen those trends gain momentum again as the lockdown continued to ease.
Mr Stapleton said this week: “Having responded quickly and decisively to cater for the surge in popularity of cycling during lockdown, we are now seeing increased demand for motoring services and products as people start using their cars regularly again, having not done so for the last few months.”