Halfords' IT overhaul drives upbeat annual results

Halfords has reported profits up 5% in its results for the year to 30 March 2007 as the car accessories and cycle retailer feels the benefits of a substantial IT investment programme.

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Halfords has reported profits up 5% in its results for the year to 30 March 2007 as the car accessories and cycle retailer feels the benefits of a substantial IT investment programme.

Revenues for the year hit £744m, up 9% on last year, with pre-tax profits hitting £80.9m.

The firm is expanding its retail outlets, seeking greater supply chain efficiencies and has realigned staff rotas to give customers “on demand” fitting services for car parts, a statement issued with the results says.

Halfords’ expansion plans come on the back of a major IT overhaul, part of a five-year change programme that began after the company was sold by former parent firm Boots in 2002.

The results follow the first year of a five-year £5.5m contract with BT Expedite, signed in February 2006, that included the integration of electronic point-of-sale (Epos) data and stock information with the retail IT supplier’s Connected Retail Store software. The move was aimed at improving stock management and customer ordering.

Halfords’ wider IT overhaul also saw Halfords deploy SAP enterprise resource planning software to replace its legacy systems, in a project completed in December 2005, in another development that will have fed into this year's financial results. Halfords also implement a new warehouse management system, integrated with the SAP software.

The driving and cycling specialist has also seen greater uptake of its online services – in line with other retailers this year – with the company reporting “an extremely pleasing performance from
Halfords.com”.

In his review of the year’s performance, chief executive Ian McLeod said: “Significant growth was achieved in website visitors, as well as online sales and conversion. Improvements in our website navigation also help customers more easily research online before buying either on the site or in store.”

Halfords had implemented a new e-commerce fulfilment system providing flexibility and scalability for future growth, he added. “With the internet continuing to influence a growing proportion of retail sales, we will continue to develop our site to ensure we meet the needs of Halfords’ customers.”

The company is planning to launch a "reserve on line, collect in store"
service in 2007 as part of a wider programme of multi-channel development.

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