Halfords saw a return to growth in sales of bicycles in the third quarter more than offsetting a small decline in parts, accessories and clothing, putting it back on track after a rough summer.

Cycle sales were up 1.1 per cent. Group like for like sales in the 15 weeks to January 15 were up 0.3 per cent, the retail business was flat while autocentres up 1.9 per cent, writes the FT’s John MurrayBrown.

Halfords is the biggest seller of bicycles in the UK with a 20-25 per cent market share.

In the summer it complained that bad weather deterred “casual cyclists.”

But Jill McDonald, Chief Executive, said she was pleased with the third quarter performance:

Particularly pleasing was the strong growth in service-related sales and a return to like-for-like growth in cycling.

But although total like for like sales returned to growth after a summer dip, the 0.3 per cent expansion pales in comparison to the 6.7 per cent growth seen in the same period last year.

Every sector saw significantly higher like for like sales growth in the same period last year. The decline in car maintenance sales growth was particularly stark- declining from 11 per cent in the same period last year to at 0.1 per cent drop this year.

The company said it achieved a record day online over the Black Friday weekend, and its highest ever day for total sales on December 23rd.

It said there was no change in expectations for group profit before tax for the full year, which is expected to be in the range of £78-82m.

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