In a weak retail market, Halfords bucked the trend and has today released figures that show the 402-store bikes and car accessory retailer saw pretax profit rise to £40.4m in the 26 weeks to the end of September, an improvement over the £33.5m reported at the same time last year.

Halfords reports 21 pc rise in first-half profits

Like-for-like sales have continued to strengthen into the second half, said a statement from Halfords.

In the six weeks since September 30th, like-for-like sales had continued to strengthen, particularly in cycling and car sat-nav and speed camera warning products.

In a 6th October trading update, Halfords had reported adjusted like-for-like sales for the first half had risen 4.1 percent.

The headline figures today are:

Revenue up 4.7 percent to £337.7m (2004: £322.7m)

Like-for-like sales up 2.6 percent

Operating profit up 8.7 percent to £46.0m (2004: £42.3m)

Pre-tax profit up 20.6 percent to £40.4m (2004: £33.5m)

Strong cash generation reduces net bank borrowings by £11.6m

Interim dividend up 8.1% to 4.0 pence per share (2004: 3.7 pence)

Halfords CEO Ian McLeod said:

“Our growth strategy, underpinned by our unique service proposition, has continued to deliver positive results despite a challenging retail environment. In the six weeks since 30 September 2005 Halfords’ like-for-like sales performance has continued to strengthen, particularly within cycling and in-car technology, giving us confidence for the second half of our financial year."

Despite the rise in profits, Halfords is still not part of the bicycle industry’s market-promoting Bike Hub levy scheme.

This scheme pays for the Bike It cycling-to-school project that is being expanded across the UK and is up for major awards.

In other news...

Gruppo Media acquires majority stake in cycling creative agency Conductor

Gruppo Media Ltd, the publisher of Rouleur and organiser of Rouleur Live events, has announced …