Our purpose as a business is to help trade customers achieve exceptional results for their customers, and to profit from doing so. We believe the best way to source and install a kitchen is to work with a local tradesperson, and we are clear that the future success of our business lies in serving the trade market to the highest standards.
Our business depends on entrepreneurial depot managers and the relationships between our highly motivated and incentivised depot teams and their local builders. A typical Howdens depot is in an edge-of-town location, which is more convenient for trade customers, and cheaper to rent. Around 85% of our UK customers live within 5 miles of a Howdens depot.
Our in-stock model means that builders can get the products they need at short notice, even when plans change part way through a job. We offer the builder quality products, excellent levels of service and trade accounts that allow them up to eight weeks to pay.
High service levels, including local proximity and immediate availability are very important to our customers and we continue to see profitable opportunities to open depots. In 2023, we opened 33 new depots in the UK (with a total of 840 trading at the end of 2023), five new depots in the Republic of Ireland, and five new depots in France.
Overall, we continue to believe there is scope for around 1,000 depots in the UK, including some more in the smaller sized format using our next day “XDC” delivery service to supplement in-depot stock holdings. The smaller version enables us to open a depot in places lacking suitable properties to accommodate the standard one or open an infill depot to provide a more local service in less densely populated areas.
We are opening all new depots in an updated format to use space more efficiently and to provide the best environment in which to do business.
We have progressed our revamp programme for existing depots. This continues to receive very positive feedback from depot staff and customers alike and providing such an attractive trading and working environment is important to our competitive position. In 2023 we planned to complete around 80 depots and in fact achieved a further 89 by the end of December bringing the total revamped to 274. In 2024 we plan to revamp around 85 more depots, which means by the end of 2024 we expect to have revamped around 54% of the 670 depots which opened in the old format and expect to have around 64% of all UK depots trading in the updated one.
We have established businesses in both France and the Republic of Ireland and the response we are getting from trade customers when they start to use Howdens is very encouraging. We are proceeding cautiously to ensure we establish the Howdens model in the right way particularly as we train and develop new entrepreneurial depot managers and their teams, which is critical to the success of the business.
By the end of 2022, we had doubled the depots trading in France and Belgium to 60 in a two-year period and opened a further five at the end of 2023. We also commenced trading in the Republic of Ireland in 2022, using a similar depot location strategy to that in France, with the depot teams there supported by our UK infrastructure and our digital platform. During 2022 we opened five depots clustered around Dublin and our arrival in the Irish market attracted much attention locally. We opened five depots in 2023, of which three are around Dublin and two serve the Cork area, taking the total trading to ten at the end of 2023. We are encouraged by depot sales to date and in 2024, we plan to open around five more depots, taking the total trading to 15.