Car parts and cycling retailer Halfords saw a 7.2 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits last year, despite "challenging" trading conditions.

The UK company enjoyed a 4.6 per cent increase in group revenue to 869.7m, despite experiencing a 5.2 per cent fall in revenue from its retail division, according to a report by business news website Insider. Underlying operating profit for the 12 months to April 1 was up 7 per cent to 128.1m and underlying pre-tax profit increased to 125.6m.

Retail sales enjoyed a good start to the new financial year, with a late Easter, sunny weather and in-store promotional activity involving A boards and banner stands helping to lift sales of Halfords' leisure products such as camping equipment in the nine weeks to June 3.

David Wild, Halfords' chief executive, said despite a challenging year for its customers, the business' focus on costs and margins helped it increase profits.

He said: "We are pleased with the positive trend in early weeks' sales that benefited from good weather and the late Easter.

"While the tough trading environment is likely to continue, we seek to build on this momentum through our clear strategy that delivers value for customers by a combination of great prices, expert service and innovative products with appropriate margin investment."