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UPDATE 1-Howden Joinery resumes dividend as profits rise
March 1, 2012 / 7:36 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Howden Joinery resumes dividend as profits rise

* Year end cash 57.1 mln stg, pays 0.5 pence dividend

* 2011 pretax profit 110 mln stg vs f‘cst 103-111 mln stg

* UK depot revenue 838.7 mln stg, up 5.5 pct, up 3.1 pct lfl

* Lfl revenue growth slows to up 0.1 in 1st 2 periods of 2012

* Cautious about the immediate outlook

LONDON, Mar 1 (Reuters) - British kitchen supplier Howden Joinery said it would pay its first dividend for four years as it met forecasts with a 9 percent rise in 2011 profit.

The firm, which emerged from the old MFI Furniture business, said on Thursday that after ending the year with net cash of 57.1 million pounds ($91.2 million) it would pay a dividend of 0.5 pence.

Howden, a supplier of kitchen units and joinery to more than 200,000 small builders from over 500 UK depots, made an underlying pretax profit of 110.0 million pounds in the year to Dec. 24.

That compared with company guidance of 103-111 million pounds and 100.9 million pounds made in the previous year.

The group has fared relatively well during Britain’s consumer recession. It does not serve the retail market directly, focusing instead on trade customers.

UK depot revenue increased 5.5 percent to 838.7 million pounds, with sales at depots open over a year up 3.1 percent.

However, Howden said like-for-like sales growth had slowed to 0.1 percent in the first two periods of 2012, reflecting tough comparatives in the previous year.

“We expect market conditions to continue to be challenging and remain cautious about the immediate outlook,” said Chief Executive Matthew Ingle.

Shares in Howden, which have increased by a quarter over the last year as it has traded well and property liabilities relating to its previous ownership of MFI were mitigated, closed Wednesday at 117.6 pence, valuing the business at about 745 million pounds. ($1 = 0.6260 British pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Neil Maidment)

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