by Richard Robinson

Higher demand for MOT tests, tyres and exhausts for older cars has boosted Halfords, helping to offset slowing sales and supply chain difficulties at its cycling business,’ was the recent headline in the media, arising from Halfords’ latest results. In the immediate aftermath of the news, the business’ shares rose 15%.

Halfords has around 10% of the UK aftersales market, but in the 20 weeks to 19 August, the business saw total revenues grow by 9.2%. With bike sales suffering from their own supply issues, the growth was primarily attributed to increased demand for its car-servicing business.

Continuing supply shortages for new cars have, as we all know, seen used car demand and prices boom. However, in recent weeks, the cost-of-living crisis appears to be slowing this demand. The net result is the oldest car parc ever seen in the UK and a greater focus on consumer expenditure. Discretionary spending on high-value items, such as a change of car, look set to come under pressure, and people are set to stretch any change.

Older cars are likely to require more maintenance, and at least some of this ‘red work’ should not be discretionary. Tyres, brakes, exhausts, steering, suspension and MOT tests all come under this category. Going further, once identified, amber work can save future costs and help ensure enhanced reliability and economy.

If ever the motor retail community needed encouragement to focus hard on helping drivers of older cars, it comes from Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton, who, in publishing the business’ results, noted:

“Vehicle reliability has improved in recent years, but there is no getting away from the fact that older cars are more likely to develop faults, are more costly to maintain, and are more polluting. This represents a risk to road safety, yet another squeeze on motorists’ wallets, and a threat to the UK’s emissions reduction goals.”

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