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Halfords Profit Down Despite Sporting Success

(c) Sky News 2012

Halfords has reported a fall in both profit and retail sales over the last six months, as a stronger summer failed to compensate for a poor start to the year.

The cycle and car repair chain said it made a pre-tax profit before one-off items of £41.9m in the six months to September 28, compared with £54.7m over the same period last year.

Retail sales across its 460 stores and 260 repair centres slipped by 1.6% on a like-for-like basis, as stronger sales in the second quarter failed to offset the first three months' 7.5% slump.

The group said the summer's bad weather hit demand for outdoor products especially, with a 6.6% fall in sales of camping, outdoor and travel equipment.

But Halfords added that Britain's success in the Tour de France and the Olympics and Paralympics this summer also helped drive demand for cycles in particular.

Cycling like-for-like sales were up 14.7% in the second quarter, resulting in a 1.9% rise in first-half sales.

Chairman Dennis Millard said the group had made the most of 2012’s sporting events.

"Our retail performance improved markedly in the second quarter after a difficult first quarter and, with a proactive trading stance, we took full advantage of the opportunities provided by the 'summer of sport'," he said in a statement.

"Our second-half retail planning assumptions remain unchanged and cautious given the prevailing pressures on the consumer as we approach the important winter and Christmas trading periods."

He added that the group maintained its full-year profit guidance of between £66m and £70m.

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