Soaring sales of electric bicycles and scooters have helped Halfords notch up a 72% jump in annual profits, but the group warned over an “acute” global bike shortage.
The cycling and motoring specialist reported underlying pre-tax profits of £96.3 million for the year to April 2, up from £55.9 million on a pro forma 52-week basis.
Halfords saw surging demand for electric scooters and bikes, with sales in this category almost doubling – up 94%.
But while bike sales jumped 54% over the year, Halfords cautioned supply issues “remain acute”, having been affected by booming demand, Brexit disruption and the blockage of the Suez Canal earlier this year.
Chief executive Graham Stapleton said adult and junior bike supply was affected, but that the group was in “pretty good shape” compared to many rivals thanks to its own brand ranges and direct relationships with suppliers.
“Supply was, and remains, a challenge, but where necessary, we quickly adapted specifications and componentry to mitigate bottlenecks in production and worked with new suppliers to achieve a steady intake of bikes throughout the year,” the group said.
The results showed overall retail sales jumped 14.6% on a like-for-like basis, while its Autocentres car servicing and repair chain enjoyed a 9.7% hike.
Mr Stapleton told the PA news agency that sales of e-scooters, electric bikes and accessories make up around a fifth to a quarter of all bike sales.
The group is investing heavily in the area of electric vehicles and will have trained more than 2,000 of its store and garage staff to service electric cars, bikes and scooters by the end of its new financial year.
Halfords added it is “positive” over the outlook as it expects restrictions on foreign travel to boost staycation goods sales, such as touring and cycling products, while it sees motoring product demand benefiting from more normal traffic patterns.
Sales in the first nine weeks of the new financial year have remained solid – up 6.6% for retail motoring, 42% for cycling and 6.6% across its Autocentres against pre-pandemic levels two years ago.
Shares rose 5% as the group resumed dividend payouts and said it sees statutory profits rising to more than £75 million in 2021-22, up from £64.5 million in the year to April 2.
Mr Stapleton said: “Demand for our services remains strong in the new financial year, and our touring categories are currently performing particularly well given the trend towards staycations this summer.”
Strong recent staycation sellers include car roof racks, bike racks and plug-in fridges, according to the group.
The group revealed it is also set to slash prices across its retail motoring ranges from next month as it expects customer belt-tightening.
It said: “The general economic outlook remains challenging, with consumers likely to be more cautious and expecting greater value from their purchases.
“We will address this by making a significant investment in pricing in our retail motoring business.”