UK leisure retail chain Halfords has enjoyed a growth in profits despite the global economic downturn, thanks in part to strong cycle sales.
The group's annual results, published today, show profits before tax of £92.4 million, up 2.4 percent on last year. This has been attributed largely to strong sales growth in cycling and car maintenance.
The financial report says: "The cycling market in the UK continues its resurgence, benefiting from participation for leisure, health, environment or increasingly economic reasons, and the group continues to expand its share."
It goes on to say that the UK cycle market is now worth around £350m, thanks in part to the Government's Cycle to Work scheme, and is growing "in both value and volume, having been materially flat... for the first half of the decade".
Halfords claims: "In 2008 particularly, this was enhanced by the success of Nicole Cooke's Olympic and world championship successes on a Boardman cycle and the broader achievements of the Halfords-sponsored Team GB cycling team at the Beijing Olympics. The group is proud to have been associated with the most successful Olympic cycle team ever."
Halfords is the market leader in the UK, selling more than a million bikes per year – approximately one-third of all new bikes.
Traditionally it has been strongest in the family leisure market, with its own-brand Apollo and Carrera cycles. It is now trying to grow its share of the children's and premium segments, by licensing child-friendly brands like Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bratz, launching its Boardman range of road and mountain bikes, and selling more high-end brands.
In the report, Halfords says: "During the current financial year we will integrate many of the core extended ranges, such as premium cycles from Pashley and Van Nicholas, clothing ranges from Gore and accessories from RockShox, and services present within our standalone stores to our most successful superstores. We will also increase the range of cycle accessories available from our website by approximately 2,000 lines."