February 28, 2013 / 7:46 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Howden Joinery profits rise in tough markets

* 2012 pretax profit 112.1 mln stg vs f‘csts 98-109 mln stg

* 2012 UK depot revenue 872.5 mln stg, up 4 pct

* UK depot revenue up 17 pct in 2013 so far

* Full-year dividend 3 pence vs 0.5 pence

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - British kitchen supplier Howden Joinery, a remnant of the MFI Furniture business, beat forecasts with a small rise in 2012 profit and has made a good start to 2013 despite tough markets.

The firm, a supplier of kitchen units and joinery to over 250,000 small builders from 529 depots, said on Thursday it made a pretax profit of 112.1 million pounds ($169.7 million) in the 53 weeks to Dec. 29.

That compares with analysts’ forecasts of 98-109 million pounds and 111 million pounds made in 2011, which was a 52 week financial year.

The impact of the extra week was to reduce pretax profit by about 5 million pounds.

UK depot revenue increased 4 percent to 872.5 million pounds, with sales at depots open over a year up 1.9 percent and gross margin up 1.8 percentage points to 61.5 percent.

So far in 2013 UK depot revenue is up 17 percent, reflecting an additional week of trading and the timing of price increases.

The firm expects growth to normalise going forward.

With Britain facing a possible triple-dip recession many retailers have been finding the going tough as consumers fret over job security and a squeeze on incomes.

Howden, which does not serve the retail market directly, focusing instead on selling kitchens to trade customers, has fared relatively well during the economic downturn.

Shares in Howden have increased by 60 percent over the last year as it has traded well and property liabilities related to its previous ownership of MFI have been mitigated.

The stock closed Wednesday at 190.4 pence, valuing the business at 1.22 billion pounds.

Having ended the year with net cash of 96.4 million pounds the firm is paying a full year dividend of 3 pence, up from 0.5 pence last time.

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