Halfords, the bicycle and car parts retailer, said underlying sales remained flat in the fourth quarter of the year as the cold weather helped boost sales at its car maintenance business but froze demand for bikes.
The group, which has 460 stores across the UK and Ireland as well as over 280 Autocentres, said cycle sales during the 11 weeks to 29 March were 8.8 per cent lower than the same period last year, despite a strong showing from premium ranges, such as Carrera and its range from Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, and a 26.5 per cent leap in sales of parts over the internet.
Halfords' cycling division received a boost last year after Sir Bradley Wiggins' success in the Tour de France and London Olympics encouraged a new peloton of Britons to get on their bikes.
The retailer said the prolonged winter helped sales of car maintenance products but dampened sales of bicycles.
Car maintenance sales grew 10.4 per cent during the final three months of the year, lifted by strong demand for wiper blade fitting and de-icing products.
Halfords sold 2.3 million litres of screenwash during the quarter, 56% more than a year earlier, while ice scraper sales were up 80% to 138,000 units.
Chief executive Matt Davies said: "This was a robust performance demonstrating how the balance of our business can offset some variations in the weather."
"We can genuinely claim to have helped keep the country moving during the big freeze," he added.
Halfords is due to publish its annual results on 23 May and has been forecast to deliver a pre-tax profit of £68 million to £72 million for the year.
Halfords has plans for a big expansion in the fragmented car repair market, and opened 23 new Autocentres to take its total to 283. It plans to open approximatelty 20-30 more during its new financial year, offering services including MOTs, tyre fitting and clutch repairs. Autocentres currently comprise about 14% of group revenues.
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