Hal­fords speeds up clo­sures of stores, los­ing 60 this year

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Laura Onita

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.”

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