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Halfords appoints new CEO as it reports strong Q2 sales

Cycle and car parts retailer Halfords has announced the appointment of a new chief executive as it revealed an uplift in second quarter trading boosted by the UK’s success in the Olympic Games and the Tour de France.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Halfords appoints new CEO as it reports strong Q2 sales

The retailer has appointed Matt Davies, the former head of Pets At Home, as its new CEO with immediate effect.  Davies will replace David Wild who stood down from his role in July after the board said it was the "right time" for a change in leadership.

Commenting on the new appointment chairman Dennis Millard said: "The Board is delighted to have recruited such a high-calibre leader as Matt.  He joins us at an opportune time for the company and will drive the execution of the three-pillared strategy laid out to shareholders earlier this year."

In the quarter ending 28 September, the group’s total revenue increased by 6.2% year-on-year, compared to a 5.2% decline in the first three months of the year. Like-for-like sales rose by 5.6% in the second quarter following a fall of 5.6% in the first quarter.

Reported group revenue growth for the first half was 0.4%, while like-like-for-like sales fell 0.1%.

Retail like-for-like sales grew by 4.3% in the second quarter compared to a 7.5% fall in the first. Sales were boosted by a 14.7% increase in sales of cycles due to the improved weather in the period and the UK’s performance in the Tour de France and London 2012. Total revenue for the retail division grew by 4.3% compared to a decline of 7.8% in the first three months of the year.

In the Autocentres division, total revenue growth increased to 19.9% in the second quarter from 14.5% in the first. Like-for like sales rose by 12.4%.

In a statement Halfords said it expects pre-tax profit to be in the region of £40-42 million in the first half reflecting the strong second quarter sales performance and an acceleration of operating-cost investment.

Despite the improved second quarter sales, Halfords said that its full-year guidance remained unchanged. However, it expects pre-tax profits to be in the upper half of the previously-stated range of £62-70 million.

Millard said: "Our trading stance together with the actions we took to capitalise on a successful summer of sport and improved weather meant we delivered a stronger Retail top line in the period, recovering some of the ground lost in the Spring. We continued to be encouraged by the performance of Autocentres."

However, Millard said that the group would remain cautious given the "prevailing pressures on the consumer as we approach the important winter and Christmas trading periods."

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