Howdens sales plummet by over half during lockdown

The lockdown saw sales at Howdens slashed by more than 55%, it’s half-year results reveal.

Across the first six months of the year, revenue fell by just under 29% compared with 2019 however, if the two quarters are split, Howden Joinery UK revenue was 1.1% higher in the first and 56% lower in the second.

In 2019, Howdens’ pre-tax profit for the first half of the year was £78m but this year the company made a loss of £14m.

It also took full advantage of Government help, with £15m from the  job retention scheme and tax payment deferrals of £61m.

However, the pent-up demand caused by lockdown has meant that in the first four-weeks of the second half of the year – which ended on July 11 – total sales at Howdens Joinery UK depots actually rose by 2.2% on the same period in 2019.

The company said it planned to continue with its expansion plans with the total number of depots trading at the end of the half was 732, with around 15 new depots expected to be opened in the second half.

Chief executive Andrew Livingston, said:  “Howdens performance in the first half of 2020 was materially impacted by covid-19, with sales for the period being significantly lower than last year. The shortfall in sales all occurred in the second quarter, which coincided with the start of lockdown in the UK, and led to us making an overall loss of £14m in the first half. Our performance improved period on period in the second quarter as we found ways to re-open for business safely and with full stock availability.

“During the period our first priority has been the health and wellbeing of our staff and our customers, whose ability to work was curtailed by lockdown. We introduced new ways of operating, provided new services to support our customers during this difficult time and reduced cash expenditure, whilst protecting essential areas.

“Given the covid-related and other economic uncertainties, we remain cautious about underlying market conditions, however we believe a more challenging and demanding marketplace can play to the advantage of our in-stock, local model.”

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