RNS Number:4909R Halfords Group PLC 03 April 2008 Halfords Group plc ("Halfords") Pre Close Trading Update 3 April 2008 Halfords, the UK's leading auto, leisure and cycling products retailer, today issues the following trading update for the 52 weeks to 28 March 2008. Sales have increased by 7.2% over the equivalent period last year and like-for-like sales increased by 4.2%. Sales growth was achieved in all categories, with the strongest performances in Car Maintenance and Cycling. Effective trading strategies have enabled the company to deliver a gross profit performance in line with the guidance previously given. Through the combination of good growth in sales and close scrutiny of costs the company is expecting to declare a full year profit before tax in line with market expectations and reflecting the ongoing share buyback programme1 anticipates it will announce high single digit growth in earnings per share. In the nine week period since the February Interim Management Statement sales have increased by 7.6% over the equivalent period last year and like-for-like sales increased by 4.6%. This includes the Easter trading period in weeks 51 and 52, which are non comparable2. The company's sales in the seven weeks to 14 March (i.e. excluding the two Easter weeks) therefore provide a more appropriate indicator of current trading. In this period sales growth, at 6.2%, representing a like-for-like increase of 3.2% was in line with the underlying sales performance reported at the last company update; and provides further evidence of the resilient nature of the company's trading. Notes. 1. Since the last update on the 7 February 2008 the company has purchased 3,617,500 of its own shares for a consideration of £9,856,132, at an average price of 272.5 pence per share. Cumulatively since the buy back programme commenced on 8 June 2006, 18,457,694 shares have been purchased at an average 325.6 pence per share. The company has entered into an irrevocable and non-discretionary arrangement with its broker, Citigroup, to repurchase on its behalf and with specified pre-set parameters, ordinary shares in the company for cancellation during the Company's closed period commencing on 3 April 2008 and ending on 4 June 2008. 2. The Easter holiday was unusually early in 2008, with Easter Sunday falling on 23 March. Easter will not fall on this earliest possible date for another 152 years! An early Easter does not have the same impact on performance as one falling in a more traditional early/mid April. Preliminary Results Halfords will announce its preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 28 March 2008 on Thursday, 5 June 2008, when it will provide a full overview and update on the business. A presentation for analysts and investors will be held at 9.30 a.m. at The City Presentation Centre, 4 Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4UP. In order to enhance the information provided to investors, from 29 March 2008 the company will report its sales performance on a quarterly basis for each 13 weeks to the Friday nearest to the end of June, September, December and March. In the forthcoming 53-week financial year these dates will be 27 June, 26 September, 26 December and 3 April. Halfords will also provide a qualitative sales update at the time of its Preliminary and Interim Results. Enquiries: Halfords Group plc (www.halfordscompany.co.uk) Nick Wharton, Finance Director 44 (0)1527 513047 Tony Newbould, Investor Relations 44 (0)1527 513113 Hogarth Partnership Julian Walker, James Longfield 44 (0)207 357 9477 Notes to Editors Halfords (www.halfords.co.uk) Established in 1892 as F.W. Rushbrooke and subsequently renamed Halfords in 1907, the Company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in June 2004. The Group employs in excess of 10,500 staff and sells 11,000 different product lines, ranging from car parts and cycles through to the latest in-car technology, alloy wheels, child seats, roof boxes and outdoor leisure and camping equipment. Halfords' own brands include Ripspeed, for car enhancement, Bikehut, for cycles and cycling accessories, including the Apollo and Carrera brands and Urban Escape for its premium range of camping equipment. Operating from 450 stores, including three stores in the Czech Republic, 24 smaller format, neighbourhood stores and five standalone Bikehuts, Halfords offers a "we fit" service for car parts, child seats, satellite navigation and in-car entertainment systems, and a "we repair" service for cycles. Cautionary Statement This report contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the financial condition, results of operations, and businesses of Halfords Group plc. These statements and forecasts involve risk, uncertainty and assumptions because they relate to events and depend upon circumstances that will occur in the future. There are a number of factors which could cause actual results or developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made only as at the date of this announcement. Nothing in this announcement should be construed as a profit forecast. Except as required by law, Halfords Group plc has no obligation to update the forward-looking statements or to correct any inaccuracies therein. This information is provided by RNS The company news service from the London Stock Exchange END