Halfords managed to woo customers to its bike offering over Christmas, as it saw cycle sales jump during the festive season.
The company revealed cycling sales jumped 5.9% on a like-for-like basis in the 14 weeks to January 3 – including sales of ebikes and escooters doubling.
As a result of the demand for electric bikes and scooters, the company has trained 700 staff across the range, with another 10% to 15% to be added later in the year.
Bosses put down the boost in cycle sales to better store layouts “with a more innovative and differentiated range that has created a better shopping experience for our customers during the peak holiday period”.
Chief executive Graham Stapleton added that as a result, sales of children’s bikes were the highest on record – with 48 launched in the last few months.
He added: “We got the opportunity to get your bike built and delivered before Christmas.
“If you bought your bike from Argos or Amazon – you’d get a big box, have to build it and hide it. That’s quite a big challenge, which we take away from the customer.”
As a result, 86,000 bikes were built in the few days before Christmas across 450 stores.
He added: “One in five adult bikes and scooters are electric. It’s no longer a small, emerging trend – it’s a substantial part of the business.”
But car part sales continued to suffer, with sales in its motoring division dropping 2.7% on a like-for-like basis.
The company said the market remains challenging “with low levels of consumer confidence continuing to impact big-ticket discretionary categories such as technology and workshop”.
It added: “There has been no incremental sales benefit from the weather, with a mild winter so far, similar to last year.
“Despite this, we still managed to grow our 3Bs business (bulbs, blades and batteries), demonstrating the improvements we have made to our customer offer.”
Online did help improve sales, with a jump of 27% and around 80% of all orders collected in stores – which reduces delivery costs for the business.
A new web platform is due to be rolled out later this year.
In its autocentre division, sales rose 4.6% on a like-for-like basis, growing the division to 27% of total group sales.
Overall, revenues across the group were up 4.6%, or 1.3% on a like-for-like basis.
Investors were pleased with the numbers, despite Mr Stapleton warning that “market conditions remained subdued and we are not anticipating a near-term improvement”.
Shares jumped 5.6% in early trading, up 8.15p to 153.65p, as the company also said it expects to hit pre-tax profits for the year in line with expectations of between £50 million and £55 million.