Halfords rode out the storm in the retail sector today after bicycle sales picked up pace during solid Christmas trading.

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The car parts and leisure goods firm, which has 460 stores in the UK and Ireland, upgraded its full-year profit guidance after like-for-like retail sales increased 0.4pc in the 15 weeks to January 11.

Overall bike sales were down 1.6pc on a same-store basis but premium brands, such as Carrera and its range from Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, were up 33pc and offset a “disappointing” start to Christmas.

The group also announced today it is to add Pinarello, the brand ridden by Team Sky and winner Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France, to its line-up.

Following the sales performance, the group said it expected pre-tax profits in the year to the end of March to be between £68 million and £72m, compared with previous expectations of £66m to £70m.

But retail sales at the group have still slowed from a bumper second quarter, when demand was boosted by British success in the Tour de France and Olympics.

Chief executive Matt Davies, the former Pets at Home boss who joined the group in October, said it was a “satisfactory performance in tough conditions.”

He added: “Cycling sales initially disappointed but performed more strongly as the holiday period progressed and we were particularly pleased that momentum has been maintained in sales of premium cycles.”

Car maintenance sales provided the strongest performance in the Christmas period, with sales up 13.2pc on a year earlier.

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