With the British summer at an end and autumn underway, companies across the UK will be analysing their strategies in the run up to events like the Rugby World Cup, Halloween and, dare we say, Christmas.
The season was bad news for Halfords, however. The outdoor leisure specialist faced an uphill struggle during the eight-week period across July and August as cycling sales fell by 11 per cent and failed to meet expectations, which it attributed to the “poor weather”. By comparison, its car-related sales remained solid – presumably as customers wanted to keep dry inside a vehicle rather than sodden on a bike. Jill McDonald, Halfords CEO and former McDonald’s UK head, said: “In my first three months at Halfords I have reviewed all aspects of the group and it is clear to me that Halfords is a strong business with a well-balanced portfolio of product and service categories, talented colleagues and considerable growth potential. “This recent weakness in our cycling sales is disappointing, but it comes after two years of very strong growth in the category and has been partly offset by strong growth in both car maintenance and car enhancement sales, which is a testament to the balanced nature of the business. “Looking ahead, we remain confident in the long-term growth opportunities in cycling and I will talk more about our plans for cycling and across the broader group at our interim results in November.” While Halfords was wrong-footed by the gloomy weather, leisure airline Ryanair was able to strike gold in August as Brits looked to escape the UK for warmer climes. It revealed that its business in the month had grown by ten per cent year on year, while rolling annual traffic to August was up by 15 per cent to 96.3m customers. “Ryanair’s August traffic grew by 10% to 10.4m customers, while our load factor jumped 2% points to 95%,” said Ryanair CMO Kenny Jacobs. “These record monthly numbers and load factors are due to our lower fares, our stronger forward bookings and the continuing success of our “Always Getting Better” customer experience programme, which continues to deliver stronger than expected traffic and load factors on our biggest ever summer schedule.” The firm added that more service improvements would land in the coming months with its programme, including car hire, a new website and app, updated cabin interiors and uniforms, as well as in-flight menus. By Zen Terrelonge
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