We acknowledged last year that we needed to improve our stores. With only low levels of investment in the past decade, the priority was to create a modern, engaging and friendlier store environment that encourages browsing and more interaction with colleagues.

Digital product selection improves the shopping experience.

In July 2013 three refreshed stores were opened in Evesham, Coventry and York. They were designed for customers to feel the warmth and personality of the Halfords brand and to find the products and services they need more easily, bringing our wefit and our werepair offers to life.

These stores were also designed to support the digital customer, the smartphone user, and the online buyer. Around 90% of our online sales are collected in-store, so we make this process easy and obvious, with better collection points and communication to customers.

We also leveraged our store space better to maximize sales opportunities. For example, the Cycling category space was increased by 50% to more appropriately represent its store sales participation.

Learning from this initial launch, additional stores were converted to the refreshed format, so that by the end of the year, 27 stores were trading in the refreshed design. We showcased the Evesham store to investors and sell-side analysts in March 2014.

Along with progressing our modest refreshes of every single Cycling department by March 2016, we will continue to roll out a variety of refresh models in the coming years, from light touch to full scale, with the ambition of having around 150 stores refreshed by the end of financial year 2016. Whatever treatment a store gets, our vision is based on a ten-point plan that clearly demonstrates how we want to enhance the customer experience so that we can leverage sales:

  1. Invite Me In — Installing new external signage that specifically tells our customers who we are and what we do.
  2. Showcase wefit and Cycle Repair — In-store services help to differentiate Halfords from our competitors and this is central to our Getting into Gear strategy.
  3. Customer Guidance — Introducing clear signage to direct and guide customers in their buying decisions.
  4. Space Reallocation —Reallocating space in-store in line with sales participation. This will allow us to range more bicycles and also to segment them better.
  5. Enliven the Customer Journey — Making the store environment more fun and creating a pleasurable shopping experience.
  6. Digital Relevance — Introducing digital technology to improve the shopping experience and making the whole process more convenient.
  7. Showcase Colleagues — Colleagues are central to our service proposition and as their expertise grows we want them to be available to customers and for customers to see them in action.
  8. Communicate Value — We want our customers to clearly understand our pricing messages, to know they are getting value for money.
  9. Considerate Customer Experience — We have thought about the customer journey and are introducing small but helpful benefits, such as a bike park with free air for customers.
  10. Category Stories — We want the way we display products to help customers understand what they do and whether they need them.

Colleagues with tablets broaden product range and add video capability.

Kids holiday bike clubs

Parents were asked for feedback via an online survey following every workshop — 98% found the summer workshops useful and 97% would recommend them to other parents.

Commencing in Easter 2013, we have offered a free Kids' Holiday Bike Clubs for children and their parents. This was an opportunity for our stores to engage with a new generation of customers and welcome parents in-store who may not otherwise have visited us. Run during the school holidays, the clubs show children aged 7 to 11 years old, and their parents, the basics of bike maintenance, providing the perfect starting point for children to return home and, together with their parents, make sure their bikes are looked after and safe.