The 408-store auto-and-bikes retailer has today released a trading update statement for the year to 31st March 2006.

Halfords posts sales growth of 8.4 per cent

Sales in the 52 weeks to 31 March 2006 increased by 8.4 per cent compared with the equivalent period last year, with like-for-like sales growing by 6.1 per cent

iPod hi-fi kits and sat-navs are powering Halfords but the trading statement also said "customers have reacted well to the launch of the new Apollo and Carrera cycle ranges, which has resulted in further growth in market share for the Bikehut brand."

There’s no breakdown of sales-by-sector in today’s statement. This will be released on 8th June when Halfords announces preliminary results for the period. Bicycles traditionally account for about a third of sales at Halfords.

The company expects to report pre-tax profits for the year to 31st March at around £77m.

Halfords CEO Ian McLeod said:

"Halfords’ focus on driving sales and cash margin has enabled us to continue to trade well against the backdrop of a difficult retail environment. Our store investment plans remain on track, while trading has benefited from a strong core business supported by successful moves into new product areas."

However, gross margins fell in the year to March 31st. This is very much due to the thinner margins from electronic car equipment such as satnav. Gross margin could fall as much as 3 per cent, believe analysts, worse than expected.

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