HALFORDS has unveiled a deal to boost its Autocentres business under plans to renew its focus on motoring after tough retail conditions sent sales and profits falling.

The car parts-to-bicycles chain has snapped up Scottish garage chain McConechy’s Tyre Service for £8.5 million cash under aims to double the contribution of service-related sales to group revenues.

It came as the group revealed the impact of a difficult consumer environment, with underlying profits tumbling 15% to £25.9m after like-for-like retail sales dropped 3.1% in the six months to September 27. Statutory pre-tax profits were 2.5% lower at £27.5m.

The firm revealed that demand for so-called big ticket items, such as more expensive bikes, were the hardest hit.

Overall, bike sales lifted 0.2% thanks to a better-than-expected performance in the final six weeks amid strong demand for electric cycles and children’s models.

Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said retail sales were hit by weakened consumer confidence, but put faith in his plan to grow its services, online and business-to-business offerings.

He added: “Over the medium term, we expect service-related sales to double as a percentage of group sales and Autocentres to represent a materially larger proportion of Halfords’ profits.

“As a result, motoring will inevitably grow in focus for the group.”