23 November 2006
Overall, the Group's performance has followed the pattern seen in the first half of the year. At this stage, we expect profit before tax and exceptional items from continuing operations to be in line with market expectations for 2006. The preliminary results for the 53 weeks ended 30 December 2006 will be released on 6 March 2007.
Business conditions encountered by Howdens are unchanged from the first half of the year.
For the year to date, the performance of mature depots, which have typically been operating for 6 years or more, has continued to move forward and we have seen the benefit of the maturing profile of sales from newer depots and new depot openings. As a result, year to date sales have grown by 8.6%, 5.2% on a same depot basis. The gross margin percentage is in line with that seen in the first half of the year.
Underlying performance in the second half of the year has been similar to the first half. Since the end of the first half of the year, sales have increased by 11.7%, 8.0% on a same depot basis, compared with the same period last year (see note 1).
As of today, 32 new depots have been opened in 2006 and it is anticipated that, as expected, around 40 will have been opened by the end of the year.
Demand from Howdens and MFI Retail has remained in line with that seen in the first half of the year. The benefits expected from the move to greater external sourcing of products and the closure of the Scunthorpe and Stockton factories in May will be reflected in the results of Supply for the second half of the year.
|The year to date increase in sales is less than the increase since the end of the first half of the year because of the high level of sales seen in period 6 in 2005, when Howdens undertook a one-off promotion. Excluding this period, the year to date increase in sales is similar to that seen since the end of the first half of the year.
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