British bike and aftermarket car parts retailer Halfords Group said like-for-like sales had continued to rise in the second half as it reported a 20.6% jump in first-half pre-tax profit on Thursday.

Halfords chief executive Ian McLeod told Reuters that, although UK retail conditions were challenging, “must have” products such as car batteries and de-icer made the company more resilient to downturns and it is less dependent on Christmas trading.

Pre-tax profit reportedly rose to GBP40.4m (US$69.5 million) in the 26 weeks to end-September from GBP33.5m 12 months ago.

Sales of satellite navigation systems and in-car audio continued to do well and McLeod told Reuters he had high hopes for its new I-pod car connector, developed with I-pod maker Apple, which it launched last week.