Halfords Group plc reported premium bike sales surged 35.1 percent in the fiscal first quarter period ended June 27, thanks to favorable weather and rising interest in professional cycling in the United Kingdom.
The UK’s largest bicycle retailer reported comparable store sales of Cycling products grew 21.3 percent, or more than three times faster than its overall comps rate of 7.7 percent, which reflect sales at its 300 auto service centers and 460 stores that sell cycling, travel and automotive aftermarket products. Comp store sales at the company’s Travel Solutions segment, which sells and installs car top boxes and cargo racks, increased 4.2 percent during the period.
Halfords saw growth across all categories of Cycling thanks to favorable weather and rising interest in the Tour de France fueled by the recent successes of British riders such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish.
Wiggins claimed his seventh Olympic gold medal in 2012 after becoming the first Brit to win the Tour de France. Cavendish came in fourth that year and Froome won the race in 2013. The popularity of road cycling in the UK contrasts sharply with the situation in the US, where road bike sales have fallen in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping debacle.
The Brits odds for a threepeat victory at Tour de France were looking slim Monday at the start of the grueling tenth stage of the race. Cavendish dropped out of the race after Stage 2 and defending champion Froome dropped out of the race Wednesday after injuring his wrist in the last of three crashes in Stage 5 of the race. The top ranked British rider was Team Skye’s Thomas Geraint at 18th.
Halfords has expanded its assortment of bikes from four brands, including two in-house brands, to nine brands since Wiggins’ historic performances in 2012. New brands include Kona, Mongoose, Raleigh and Pinarello, which Wiggins and Froome were riding when they won the Tour de France. In early June, Halfords acquired the U.K.-based Boardman Bicycle with plans to help founder and 1992 Olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman expand in the U.S. and other international markets. Halfords estimates it controls 20 to 25 percent of the UK’s annual bike sales and 15 percent of it’s the country bicycle parts, accessories and clothing sales.
Halfords only discloses sales and other figures from its income statement in its interim, or second quarter, and year end reports. Last year, the company reported Cycling sales of £263.1 million ($489 mm) and Travel Solutions sales of £98.7 million ($183mm). The company operates 460 retail locations and 300 auto service centers in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.