UPDATE 1-Kitchen supplier Howden Joinery's H1 profit rises 37.5 pct

Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:18am EDT

(Adds details, analyst comments, share movement)

July 24 (Reuters) - Modular kitchen manufacturer Howden Joinery Group Plc reported a 37.5 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by improving consumer sentiment and a slew of government initiatives that have boosted Britain's housing market.

The company also said on Thursday that revenue from its UK depot business was up 14 percent in the first four weeks of the second half, after growing 11.6 percent in the first half.

Howden's shares rose as much as 5.6 percent in early trading, making the stock the top percentage gainer on the FTSE-250 Midcap Index.

Howden sells kitchens and joinery products to kitchen shops, which install them for landlords, local authorities, housing trusts and developers.

The company said pretax profit rose to 57.2 million pounds ($97.4 million) in the 24 weeks to June 14, from 41.6 million pounds a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 11.4 percent to 435.4 million pounds in the first half, with UK depots contributing 428.2 million pounds. The remaining contribution came from France.

Gross profit margin rose to 63.2 percent from 61.5 a year earlier.

"Howden has delivered a strong H1 result and we think continues to outperform the market," Liberum analysts said in a note to clients.

A surge in homebuilding helped British construction activity grow at its fastest annual pace in four months in June, bucking expectations for a slowdown, the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' survey showed.

Howden also got a boost from improving consumer spending in the second quarter - the fastest year-on-year growth rate since mid-2010.

The company said it had opened 17 new depots in the UK so far this year, bringing the total to 576. It plans to open another 30 depots this year.

Howden's shares were up 4.46 percent at 325.40 pence at 0755 GMT.

($1 = 0.5872 British pounds) (Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri and Roshni Menon; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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