Halfords targets UK over-50s as it seeks to fill 1,000 vacancies

Halfords targets UK over-50s as it seeks to fill 1,000 vacancies

Halfords is aiming to recruit 1,000 car technicians targeting pensioners and women as UK businesses compete for skilled workers amid chronic labor shortages.

The bike and car parts seller plans to offer apprenticeships to over-50s who have left their jobs during the pandemic, as well as attracting more women, ex-offenders and disadvantaged young people to the roles over the next 12 months as its services business grows. Halfords has over 600 garages and almost 700 vans.

“We need to be more creative in bringing colleagues into technical roles,” said general manager Graham Stapleton. “The problem is that it is more difficult than a few years ago to recruit technicians. More people have retired and the labor pool has shrunk”.

About 1 million people have given up their jobs since the start of the pandemic, with retirement being the most common reason cited by people aged 50 to 70, according to official statistics. Meanwhile, the jobless rate hit its lowest level since 1974 last month as UK businesses struggled to recruit.

In August, Dame Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership, urged retirees to return to work to deal with labor shortages.

Halfords’ announcement came as it told investors that annual profits would be in the lower end of its £65-75m range, sending the shares down more than 6% to 200p in trading in the morning. The title has fallen more than 45% since the star of the year.

Cash-strapped consumers are spending less on “higher priced” items and abandoning discretionary purchases, the company said.

It posted pre-tax profits of £29.3m for the 26 weeks to September 30, less than half the equivalent period in 2021, largely due to higher day-to-day costs. Revenue rose 10.2% to £765.7m in 2021, boosted by repairs and MOTs, but retail sales fell 6% in the period as fewer shoppers bought bikes after a surge during the pandemic.

Halfords plans to be a services-focused business by 2023, according to Stapleton, who described it as a “really pivotal point” as it expects more than half of its revenue to come from services by then. next year.

“There is undoubtedly a brighter future for Halfords as a service provider that does retail and not the other way around,” analysts at Peel Hunt said.

The company did well at the end of the pandemic, with consumers getting back into their cars to commute and travel again, but it has since been hit by inflationary pressures, higher energy costs and a weaker exchange rate. weak against the dollar.

Stapleton said another effect of the cost of living crisis has been that consumers have shifted from driving cars to riding e-bikes and scooters. He also predicted a “strong Christmas” for children’s bikes.

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