Halfords to reopen branches as bike shops given ‘essential’ status | Business
Halfords is aiming to reopen some of its stores this week after being designated as an essential service under the government’s latest coronavirus control measures.
The car parts, bike and servicing group said it was “seeking to strike a balance between providing essential motoring and cycling services to the UK public alongside guaranteeing the personal safety of our customers and colleagues”.
Halfords said trading had been “very strong” in the last few weeks but, given the latest government guidance on staying at home, it expected sales to drop sharply and annual profits to be at the lower end of or slightly below the £50m–£55m range pencilled in by the City.
The group closed its stores on Monday night after the government’s demand that the majority of the high street should close, including clothing and electronics stores, hairdressers and dining establishments. However, bicycle shops are allowed to continue trading as an essential service, alongside supermarkets and pharmacies, under the government’s lockdown measures.
Graham Stapleton, Halfords’ chief executive, said: “In such difficult times the health and safety of our colleagues and customers remains our top priority and we continue to take all appropriate action in line with government advice. Halfords has an essential role to play in keeping the country moving, providing vital support to emergency workers, fleet operations, key workers and the general population as they travel for essential supplies and, where required, attend places of work.”
Halfords said many key companies and services relied on it to keep their motor fleets running, including the Ministry of Defence, the British Transport Police and several large UK utility companies.
There has been a surge in business for the bicycle industry in recent weeks, particularly for cycle repairers, with people avoiding public transport.
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is understood to be considering reopening its Evans cycling chain after seeking further guidance from the government. Evans closed its doors after a backlash against the group’s attempt to keep its Sports Direct chain trading on the basis that selling sporting and fitness equipment made the company a vital asset as Britons were forced to stay at home.