Halfords Hopes Olympic Effect Will Re-Energise UK Bicycle Sales


Halfords is hoping for a boost from the exploits of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott at the Rio 2016 Olympics, after slowing bike sales weighed on the retailer’s annual results.

The car parts, bikes and accessories retailer said pre-tax profit before one-off items edged up to £81.5m from £81.1m in the year to April. Cycling sales fell 0.9% due to a sharp drop in the second quarter though business picked up later in the year. Motoring retail revenues and sales of MOTs and other car services rose 2.5%.

Halfords’ fortunes have become linked to the British cycling craze that followed medals for Wiggins and other riders at the 2012 London Olympics. Though motoring makes up about 70% of Halfords’ business, cycling has accounted for much of the group’s growth in recent years.

A string of further cycling victories, including Tour de France wins for Wiggins and Chris Froome, and the tour coming to the UK in 2014 maintained momentum. But sales suffered last summer as bad weather deterred casual cyclists from taking to the road or upgrading their kit and competition between retailers drove margins down.


The Rio event starts on 5 August and Wiggins will be taking part again along with Laura Trott. Halfords signed up Wiggins in November to help design a range of affordable children’s bikes that go on sale before the Games, while Trott has worked on a women’s range bearing her name.

Jill McDonald, Halfords’ chief executive, said: “When big sporting events are on, cycling, for example, will probably come more to the forefront of people’s minds.

“We are expecting great things from Sir Bradley and Laura Trott so we hope cycling will be in the minds of the public. We would expect there to be some form of bounce but we will wait and see.”

McDonald, the former head of McDonald’s UK, took over at Halfords a year ago, replacing bike enthusiast Matt Davies, who left to run Tesco’s British business. She said after carrying out a review of the British cycling market she expected bike sales to rise 3-5% a year and for Halfords to increase its share of that market.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “Today’s final results from Halfords are at the upper end of the previous £78m-82m profit range but there’s not a lot to shout about.”

Halfords’ shares, down by a quarter since early August 2015, fell 5% to 417p.

Asmaa Mubita is a Kenyan journalist of international repute with over fifteen years of experience in broadcast journalism. Asmaa Mubita began his journalism career at the Kenyan state broadcaster (KBC) and later worked at the KTN owned by the Standard Group and Citizen Television, the flagship brand of Royal Media Services. These exploits together with his reporting experience with the Voice of America, CNN and BBC have been rewarded with local and global recognition.