Soaring cycle sales helped Halfords climb its best-ever Christmas week but new lockdown restrictions could dent fourth-quarter performance.
Demand for ebikes and escooters lifted cycle purchases up by more than a third (35.4%) but the collapse in traffic on the roads saw revenues in its motoring arm crash 8.4%.
The group, which can stay open as an essential retailer, reported total group revenue climbing 11.7% in its third-quarter trading update to January 1 with same-store sales up 9.8 per cent.
Chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “We are pleased to have delivered a strong performance under hugely challenging circumstances, including our best-ever Christmas week.”
The company said it was still reviewing whether pay back money saved from the business rates holiday for despite other retailers including Tesco, B&M and Lidl all agreeing to pay their rates bills in full.
“Although we currently anticipate a less severe impact on motoring demand relative to the spring lockdown, the cycling market is seasonally smaller during the fourth quarter and may not fully offset the impact on motoring,” the group said.
Shares rose 4.6% or 12.8p to 290.30p in early trading.
Card Factory today said it is in “constructive discussions” with its banks after seeing sales decimated by the impact of mandatory store closures.
The greetings card retailer lost more than a third of its available trading days in the 11 months to December 31, resulting in a 38% slide in store sales.
With outlets shut again in the current lockdown, it expects to rack up a loss of £10 million once its financial year completes later this month.
The Wakefield-based group is confident that its existing £200 million banking facility will be sufficient for short-term needs, as long as the lockdown impacting non-essential retailers does not go beyond the end of April.
It has reduced debt by almost £30 million to £90 million, and while lending covenants will be breached at the end of January it says discussions with its banks are constructive.
Online channels continue to trade well, with like-for-like sales up 137% on a year earlier.
Supermarket sandwich-supplier Bakkavor today said that in the year to December 26 revenues were down 4.9% on the prior year, as food-to-go sale volumes were hit by commuters working from home.
The firm -which makes sandwiches, ready meals, salads and desserts for major supermarket chains including M&S, Waitrose and Tesco – saw UK LFL sales 5.3% lower than in 2019.
It said that its forward planning has “minimised disruption to our business and our supply chain continues to operate effectively” post-Brexit, despite new red tape leading to major delays in the fresh food import and export sector since January 1.
But the firm warned that it is still “early days”.
Boss Agust Gudmundsson said the company had “delivered a strong and resilient performance” in unprecedented times in 2020.
Online musical instruments retailer Gear4Music has said it expects to report full-year results ahead of expectations.
The AIM-listed firm said that is following a “very successful Christmas trading period, and early indications of positive trading post-Brexit”.
In the three months to December 31 sales rose 30% to £52.2 million.
Chief executive Andrew Wass said: “Strong growth during the period has been driven by products that can be used and played at home, including guitars, keyboards and home recording equipment.”
He added: “We know many of our customers are looking forward to rehearsing and performing together again, and as social distancing restrictions are eased, we expect our live sound, drums and orchestral categories to return to stronger growth.”