- Cycling and motor equipment retailer Halfords said annual pre-tax profits fell by nearly a quarter as weaker consumer confidence and 'extremely' mild weather conditions hurt performance in its motoring segment.

For the 52 weeks to 29 March, pre-tax profit fell 24% to £51.0m, and total revenue grew 1.1% to £1.14bn on a like-for-like (LFL) basis.

The company blamed the decline in profits on a lower motoring sales mix year-on-year, due to 'mild winter temperatures, weakened consumer confidence in the run up to Christmas, retail inflation and investment in strategic projects.'

Retail performance in the year was 'impacted by extremely mild winter temperatures, boosting Cycling performance, up +2.6% LFL, but adversely affecting Motoring which, as a result, was down -0.4% on a LFL basis,' the company said.

Bike volumes overall, however, had been subdued across the market in 2019, while motoring tended to be a 'more resilient' category, key product areas were impacted by weather extremes.

Autocentres performed 'strongly' across the year, with LFL sales of 2.6%, reflecting 'good growth' in servicing, tyres and MOTs, the company said.

Group online sales, which represented 20% of total group sales, grew 9.5%, with 83% of orders being collected in store, it added.

The company proposed a final dividend payment of 12.39p a share, taking the full-year ordinary dividend to 18.57p, up 3.0% year-on-year.

Current trading for the seven weeks ending 17 May, which included Easter, remained in line with expectations, the company said.

Looking ahead, the group reconfirmed its guidance on 2020 pre-tax profits to be 'broadly in line' with 2019, and underlying cost growth to be lower than that of 2019.

'Our view assumes average weather conditions across the year and a consumer and economic outlook broadly similar to that experienced during the second half of FY19. We remain confident in our ability to generate consistent levels of Free Cash Flow which, for FY20, will be underpinned primarily by working capital efficiencies,' the company said.

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