Halfords Group has reported strong full-year 2022 revenue growth of +19.9 per cent compared with 2020. That means total group revenues amounted to £1.369 billion in 2022, of which £368 million came from the autocentres business – an increase of 91.9 per cent compared with 2020. Group gross margin totalled £721.7 million, of which £211.0 million came from Autocentres. Much of the Autocentres-driven growth comes via the acquisitions of Iversons and the Axle Group/National Tyres last year, however life-for-like growth of 23.4 per cent shows that business continues on an organic upward trajectory as well. As a result, Halfords Autocentres gross margin is now growing six-times faster than the group’s wider retail business.
At the end of the year, it is customary to look back at the preceding 12 months as well as to look forward at what the future has to hold. One way our culture sums up the past year is to nominate a fitting word that encapsulates the spirit of the age. Last year our word of the year was “unprecedented”. This year the (OED) Oxford English Dictionary word of 2021 is “vax”, which offers us all – as if it were needed – a reminder of the continuing presence of Covid-19 during the last year.
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”.
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.