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Halfords plans Czech expansion

The UK’s largest car parts retailer and bike seller, Halfords, has announced plans to open three pilot stores in the Czech Republic before spring 2007.

The retailer announced its plans along with quarterly results yesterday.

Halfords will initially invest £1 million into three stores and will assess its performance in the first six-to-12 months before expanding in the country.

In 2005, Halfords opened three pilot stores in Ireland and has since opened an additional five, with plans for five more by the end of the year. Halfords says it started looking at continental Europe following success in Ireland.

Halfords wants to concentrate on Central Europe for further expansion.

"In Central Europe the GDP growth is around twice that of Western Europe," said Halfords’ chief executive Ian McLeod. "There are actually more cars per capita in Prague than there are in the UK and 80 per cent of the cars are more than five years old."

Halfords operates 402 stores in the UK and Ireland, of which 351 are out-of-town superstores. The stores employ around 9,000 people. The company reported revenues of £81.7 million and pre-ax profit of £77 million in the fiscal year ending March 31.

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