Times have been tough in the last couple of years, but if the growth of the top 25 tyre retailers in the UK is anything to go by, the nation’s leading tyre retail businesses are taking triumph from adversity. Of course, Halfords’ acquisition of National Tyres and Autocare’s parent company at the end of 2021 makes up a big part of the new UK tyre retail landscape, but it is clear that adding branches to existing networks (either by organic growth or by acquisition) is a common theme across the board.
19-year-old Cameron Palmer from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, has been crowned the 2022 Halfords BTCC Apprentice of the Year competition winner. Cameron, who is a Level Three apprentice and has been based at the Wyvern Halfords Autocentre in Derby for the past six months, fought off competition from apprentices all over the country to come out on top.
Halfords Group plc has reported strong group sales up 10.4 per cent like-for-like over two years driven by “an outstanding Autocentres performance through the third quarter 2021 MOT peak.” Indeed, ‘Motoring services’ now account for 70 per cent of sales due to the combination of Autocentres growth and the recent National Tyres purchase. Not only do these movements reflect Halfords’ efforts to lead the tyre retail/motoring services market, but represent steps towards the creation of motoring retail “fusion towns.
In light of the news of Halfords acquisition of National Tyres and Iverson Tyres, Tyres & Accessories contacted various National Tyres and Halfords executives for comment on the subjects of branding and branch closures. In response, company spokesperson confirmed that the bulk of Axle Group businesses will be rebranded under the Halfords moniker with one or two exceptions.
Following the news that Halfords Group is buying Axle Group Holdings Ltd including 239 National Tyres garages and 60 mobile tyre fitting vans, further details relating to the transaction have emerged. Firstly, while company announcements refer to the purchase of “National”, Halfords’ latest acquisition actually sees the company purchase the entire issued share capital of Axle Group Holdings Ltd (“National”) for £62 million. And the transaction is expected to be completed on 9 December 2021.
According to Halfords, the acquisition of National Tyres delivers “on its strategy to become a Motoring Services focused business”. Halfords Autocentres has always been amongst the most profitable parts of the overall Halfords Group businesses and financial figures have consistently shown that autocentre-related revenue is amongst the fastest-growing parts of the group. But what the National Tyres acquisition specifically means is that what Halfords terms “motoring revenue” will “represent more than 70 per cent of Group pro-forma revenue”.
In addition to the acquisition of Axle Group/National Tyres, Halfords has also bought London-based Iverson Tyres, which describes itself as a “specialist supplier and fitter of tyres and provider of adjacent maintenance services”. Iverson Tyres was founded in 1992 and is made up of four locations in Chiswick, Hanwell, Northolt and Farnham Common.
Halfords is paying £62 million for National, the tyre and automotive servicing, maintenance and repair business, which operates under the National Tyres and Autocare, Viking Wholesale Tyres and Tyre Shopper brands. As a result, Halfords’ garage estate will grow by more than 60 per cent (from 372 to 604 garages), offering MOT, servicing, fitting and repair services. According to Halfords, this deal makes it “the largest vehicle service, maintenance and repair business in the UK, with the majority of UK households within a 20-minute drive of a Halfords garage.” However, Tyres & Accessories data suggests European Tyre Enterprises Ltd (ETEL), which incorporates 650 Kwik Fits in its portfolio, is still the largest in the UK with a total estate of 740 at the last count.
Halfords Group plc announced a strong trading update on 8 September, with the 20-week figures once again illustrating the rapid growth of the company’s automotive businesses such as Halfords Autocentres and its more recently-acquired tyre wholesale and truck tyre operations.
On Friday 3 September Halfords unveiled its new retail concept at its recently refurbished Colchester branch. The new concept seeks to integrate the differing parts of the Halfords portfolio (including autocentres and mobile experts) and was hailed by CEO Graham Stapleton as “the future of Halfords”. As well as the Colchester pilot, the new concept will be trialled in two other locations.
Following Halfords’ recent acquisitions of Universal Tyres and McConnechy’s before that, many have speculated regarding what the future holds for Lodge Tyres. Rumours aside, the short story is that Lodge Tyres had a good 2020 despite the obvious Covid-19-related adversity and is set for further growth in 2021. Tyres & Accessories met with Lodge Tyres managing director Andy Christmas and commercial director Martin O’Brien in order to get the latest details straight from Lodge Tyres’ management.
Halfords has entered the B2B software market by making American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) the first customer of Halfords’ Avayler proprietary software which streamlines “service delivery for companies that operate in multiple locations.” According to Halfords, the Avayler platform will underpin ATD’s operations, supplying tyres to 80,000 garages across the US. ATD will also be the exclusive provider of the Avayler Mobile platform to the North American automotive market. ATD is one of the largest independent suppliers of tyres in the US replacement market and the part owner of Tirebuyer.com (which was established by blackcircles.com founder Mike Welch). No price details associated with the sale of the Avayler software system to ATD have yet been disclosed.
The Halfords Group reported a strong set of full-year 2021 that saw the company generate total sales of 1,292.5 million in 2021, up 13.1 per cent compared with the 2020 financial year (2020: 1,155.1 million). The financial report, which was published on 17 June 2021, shows that by all measures pre-tax profits skyrocketed. Indeed, Halfords Group reported profit before tax after the impact of IFRS 16 of £64.5 million, which amounts to a headline-grabbing increase of 184.1 per cent compared with the previous year.
Halfords Autocentres accounted for an increasing proportion of the group’s overall sales figures, reporting 2021 sales of £252.5 million, up 31.6 per cent compared with 2020’s £194.1 million.
We’ve all seen the meme. Mechanic hourly rate: Standard – £100; £175 if you watch; and £200 if you worked on it first! Nevertheless, with 40 per cent of people spending more time in their garage during lockdown than before, Halfords is running a “best home garage” competition. The prize? £5000 cash and a “Halfords Ultimate Garage Bundle”.