YORKSHIRE kitchen supplier Howden Joinery vowed to step up its expansion plans today after reporting higher profits.
The group, which sells kitchens to local builders, opened 20 new depots last year and plans to add up to 30 more to its 529-strong network this year, believing there is room for a total of 700.
Pre-tax profits increased to £112.1 million, from £111 million in 2011, as Howden, which used to be part of former flat-pack furniture firm MFI, also gained a net 20,000 new credit accounts.
Chief executive, Matthew Ingle, said: “Our performance allows us to continue to pursue growth opportunities.”
He warned market conditions were set to remain challenging but that the group would continue to “respond to the prevailing conditions”.
Shares in the group were up 8% as it also announced a full-year dividend of 3p, up from 0.5p last year - when it paid its first shareholder dividend in four years.
Howden, which manufactures a third of its products in its factories in Runcorn, Cheshire and Howden, East Yorkshire, saw like-for-like revenues grow 1.9% to £887.1 million, as it changed its mix of products sold to help offset a modest decline in the number of kitchen cabinets sold.
Overall revenues growth slowed to 3% in the second half of 2012 from 6.8% in the first half of the year due to tougher comparatives following a June 2011 price rise.
Sales at the group, which employs about 6,000 people, have risen 17% so far in 2013, but Howden said the leap reflected an extra week of trading and the timing of price increases.
Howden also said it had introduced a system that allowed it to provide builders with a video of the kitchen that had been designed for them and launched a YouTube channel showing off its products.