The group also reported group revenue growth of 9.6%, and despite the ongoing pandemic, all its product areas and businesses returned to growth towards the end of the period.
Group services reported a growth of 16.6%, while online sales had a growth of 148% and B2B a growth of 37%. Halford’s Cycling business also saw “significant” profitability improvements, with growth finishing at 54.4%.
The group has confirmed that a widespread recruitment programme is now underway to fill a range of service-oriented roles across stores, Autocentres and Halfords Mobile Expert vans, with the group investing “significantly” in training across motoring and cycling services for existing employees.
Halford’s will also be training 100 more electric car technicians next year, bringing the total to 470. In addition, it confirmed plans to grow the number of e-bike and e-scooter servicers in stores from 400 to over 1,800.
It added that a continued investment in customer service saw key satisfaction metrics “improve materially” over the half-year of trading, ending the first half ahead of last year.
Looking ahead, the group said the outlook for H2 2021 “remains uncertain” due to the seasonality of its business and the ongoing impact of Covid-19.
Nonetheless, it believes that its “resilient” performance in H1 “gives a clear indication of its potential once the pandemic has subsided”, adding that it expects good levels of demand in Cycling to continue.
CEO Graham Stapleton said: “We are very pleased to have achieved such a strong first half performance against the backdrop of one of the most challenging trading environments in recent history. It is a great testament to the strength and adaptability of our business, as well as to the professionalism, hard work and dedication of our colleagues.
“We have worked hard to capitalise on the cycling market tailwinds by sourcing more stock from existing and new suppliers, as well as launching new products and brands to serve the high level of demand for our cycling products and services.”
He added: “As a sign of our confidence in the long-term prospects of our motoring business, and in order to meet the growing demand for our services in this area, we are in the process of recruiting to fill a wide range of service-oriented roles across our stores, Autocentres and fleet of Halfords Mobile Expert vans.
“As an essential retailer and service provider, we are proud to be able to help keep the UK moving during these exceptionally challenging and uncertain times.”