Hal­ford cau­tious over re­tail spend­ing as prof­its tum­ble by 23%

Western Daily Press - - Business -

RE­TAILER Hal­fords has be­come the lat­est to warn over con­sumer con­fi­dence as it re­vealed half-year prof­its dropped by nearly a fifth.

The car parts-to-bi­cy­cles chain said shop­pers were hold­ing back on spend­ing on dis­cre­tionary items, which was hurt­ing bike sales in par­tic­u­lar.

A num­ber of re­tail­ers have been cau­tion­ing over the con­sumer out­look as Brexit wor­ries take their toll.

Hal­fords re­ported a 23 per cent fall in half-year pre-tax prof­its to £28.2 mil­lion and said it ex­pected the “short-term con­di­tions for dis­cre­tionary spend to re­main chal­leng­ing”.

On an un­der­ly­ing ba­sis, pre-tax prof­its dropped 17.1 per cent to £30.5 mil­lion in the six months to Septem­ber 28.

The chain said it still con­tin­ued to ex­pect full-year prof­its to re­main “broadly” flat as it pre­dicted a pickup in earn­ings over the fi­nal six months.

But it stressed this was de­pen­dent on trad­ing over Christ­mas and as­sum­ing aver­age win­ter weather.

Gra­ham Sta­ple­ton, re­cently ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hal­fords, said: “De­spite the chal­leng­ing UK con­sumer en­vi­ron­ment, we de­liv­ered a ro­bust sales and cash­flow per­for­mance in the first half, with costs and profit broadly in line with our ex­pec­ta­tions.”

The half-year results showed like­for-like re­tail sales rose 2.3 per cent, while its au­to­cen­tres chain saw growth of 3.3 per cent.

Bike sales rose one per cent in the half-year as the sum­mer heat­wave off­set a dif­fi­cult start to the year.

But Hal­fords said: “We ex­pect the short-term con­di­tions to re­main chal­leng­ing.”

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