Howdens sales bounce back after lockdown

Howdens Joinery Group saw UK revenues climb by almost a half (47.1%) in its first 16 weeks trading in 2021.

For those 16 weeks to April 17,the group’s latest trading update reported overall sales up by 47.1%, and by 46.1% on a same-depot basis, which excludes any new depots opened during that period. This was compared with equivalent periods in 2020 when, Howdens said, business was impacted in Q4 by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.

In addition to its 751 depots in the UK, Howdens also operates 30 depots in France and Belgium. It saw revenues in its European operations during these 16 weeks more than double, with a 108% increase compared with the same period last year – 105.9% on a same-depot basis. Compared with 2019, revenue was up by 37% (19.7% on a same-depot basis).

The Howdens Joinery board said it was confident that the group remained on target for its plans this year.

The group also plans to open 35 new depots in the UK this year and a further 11 in France. It will also refurbish around 40 older UK depots.

In its 2020 full-year results, Howdens reported sales of £1.55 billion, down 2.3% on 2019. Pre-tax profit was £185.3 million, which was down 28.9% on 2019.

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At the time, chief executive Andrew Livingstone said: “Howdens performed well during 2020. We adapted to Covid trading conditions and progressed our strategic plans for the business. Our performance demonstrates the strength of our trade only business model and our ability to evolve the business while prioritising the health and well-being of our staff and customers.

“Following a sharp drop in sales in quarter two when the UK entered its first national lockdown, our performance improved significantly in the second half, with sales up 16% compared to the equivalent period in 2019, as we benefited from pent-up demand and the consumer’s desire to invest in their homes. The year ended strongly with profit and cash flow ahead of expectations and we were able to repay the Government furlough and other support taken earlier in the year. We are also pleased to be resuming dividend payments.”

Howdens will release its 2021 half-year report on July 22.

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