Halfords Group plc took a more somber view of the UK bicycle market after reporting like-for-like sales of cycling products grew 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, but declined -0.9 percent for the year ended April 1 compared with a year earlier.
It has since concluded that annual growth in cycling sales would slow to the 3 to 5 percent range following their surge in 2013 and 2014 when strong performances of British riders in the Tour de France and other pro races spurred interest in cycling.
“Looking specifically at recent market performance, our analysis suggests that the market declined in the last 12 months,” Halfords said in its June 1 report reviewing its preliminary results for the period. “This decline was principally attributed to the summer of 2015. Since then we have observed a gradual stabilizing of market conditions, notwithstanding that it may take some time to return to consistent growth and the weather continues to have an impact on the timing of customer purchase.”
Halfords, which estimates its sells nearly one in four bicycles sold in the UK, reported revenue at 462 Halfords stores and 10 Cycle Republic shops increased 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter and 1.2 percent in the fiscal year ended April 1 compared with the year earlier.
Halfords stores offer car parts, cycling products, in-car technology, child seats, roof boxes and camping equipment. While the company did not disclose Cycling revenues, it said they comprised about 30 percent of total revenue in fiscal 2015, or about £306.5 million.
On a like-for-like basis, including online sales, Retail revenues rose 1.3 percent to £868.5 million, reflecting 2.5 percent growth in the sale of Motoring products and services and the -0.9 percent decline in Cycling sales. The decline was principally driven by a -7.6 percent decline in like-for-like cycling sales in the fiscal second quarter, when the company faced tough comps, poor weather and deep discounting.
“In cycling our sales improved in the second half of the year and cycle repair delivered good growth,” MacDonald said. “The recent acquisition of Tredz alongside the continued expansion of Cycle Republic and the launch of our new Laura Trott range demonstrates the strength and breadth of our cycling proposition.
Based on a survey conducted last summer, Halfords estimates it controlled around 24 percent of bike sales, 15 percent of bicycle parts and accessories sales and 10 percent of cycle repair sales in its market. The company derives cycling revenue primarily from owned brands including Apollo, Carrera, Boardman and 13 Cycles, but also carries Kona, Mongoose, Raleigh and Pinarello bicycles, Thule cargo carriers, CamelBak hydration products, Giro helmets and apparel and accessories from other brands.
Halfords’ like-for-like Travel Solutions revenues, which reflect sales of rooftop boxes, CampinGaz fuel and Outwell camp kitchen products, rose 9.5 percent during the quarter and 2.8 percent for the full fiscal year, driven by growth in child car seats and camping equipment.
Service-related sales at Halfords and Cycle Republic shops increased by 8.5 percent, driven in particular by cycle repair and the installation of car audio systems, racks and roof boxes. Online Retail revenues grew by 1.4 percent to reach 12.1 percent of total Retail sales, which was flat with fiscal 2015. About 90 percent of the company’s online sales were picked up in-store during the fiscal year.
“We remain confident in the long-term growth prospects of the cycling market,” MacDonald said. “Participation in the UK is still low and there is large scope for new cyclists as well as increased spend from existing cyclists. This is supported by significant government support in London and in many other cities, as well as consumer trends towards healthy activities.”