Halfords ‘encouraged’ by progress as profits rise

Car parts and cycles retailer Halfords today said it was making “encouraging” progress towards its turnaround as it unveiled a 5.2 per cent rise in first-half profits.

The group, which is planning to invest about £100 million in its retail offering in a bid to grow sales to £1 billion by 2016, said pre-tax profits for the six months to 27 September grew to £44.6m, up from £42.4m a year earlier.

Total revenues increased 7.7 per cent to £490.6m, with like-for-like sales at its retail stores rising by the same proportion, but takings at its car servicing centres dipped 2.1 per cent.

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Chief executive Matt Davis said: “These are early days in our three-year transformation plan but it is encouraging to see the retail business deliver a strong first-half performance.

“The performance in Autocentres by contrast was impacted by both operational and market challenges, although we have a clear investment plan in place to grow the business over the medium term.”

The interim dividend, to be paid on 24 January, was slashed by 35 per cent to 5.2p a share, in line with the reduction in last year’s final dividend.