Halfords Buys Nationwide Autocentres for £73.2 million

Halfords Group has bought Nationwide Autocentres in a £73.2 million deal, which managers described as the next “logical step” in its expansion plans. Nationwide, which has been owned by private equity group Phoenix since 2006, employs 900 mechanics and serves roughly 500,000 customers a year. Nationwide offers customers and fleets MOTs, servicing and repairs, but also recently increased the emphasis on tyres at its 224 outlets.

Following the acquisition Nationwide will be re-branded as Halfords Autocentres. The next stage in the strategy is to roll-out at least 200 more centres, creating over 1,000 new jobs. However according to Halfords, even before the new openings the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Nationwide, creates the largest UK operator with a “specialised focus on the car parts, servicing and repair market.”

Halfords chief executive, David Wild, said the £9 billion car servicing and repair market is a large and highly attractive sector in which there are increasing demands from motorists. However, this is not Halford’s first venture into the servicing and repair market. While both companies official statements played down the company’s history in this sector, Halford’s last foray in this direction is worth remembering.

Nationwide’s 500,000 customers each year are a mixture split been Fleet (25 per cent of revenues) and Private (75 per cent). Its strategy is to differentiate itself within its market by being the only national operator to provide dealership quality service at lower prices. Their strong customer proposition is supported by a strong website.

Halfords shares topped the FTSE 250 this morning, up 28.9p at 420.6p. This values Halfords at over £800 million. A report in The Times also linked the company with potential bids for Blacks Leisure, the outdoor retailer, and Hobbycraft, which is privately owned.

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