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Virus-led cycling boom drives Halfords third-quarter sales higher

·1-min read

(Reuters) - Bicycle and car products retailer Halfords Group Plc posted an 11.5% jump in sales in the last three months of 2020 on Thursday, benefiting from a coronavirus-driven boom in cycling as more Britons avoided public transport.

While cycling has enjoyed increased popularity among Britons during the COVID-19 pandemic, Halfords has warned of a hit to motor product sales with fewer vehicles on the road and the winter season will likely keep people indoors.

Like-for-like sales were up 11.7% in the three months ended Jan. 1, with a 35.4% surge in sales for cycling products and 21.1% rise in sales in its garage business, Autocentres, the more than 120-year-old company said.

"We are pleased to have delivered a strong performance under hugely challenging circumstances, including our best ever Christmas week," Chief Executive Officer Graham Stapleton said.

Halfords said the hit to its motoring business is expected to be less severe in the latest lockdown than spring. However, the company added that a seasonally weak fourth-quarter for cycling may not completely balance that hit.

Like-for-like sales for motoring products fell 8.4% in the third quarter.

Britain went into a third lockdown in January to contain a highly contagious mutant variant of the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)