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Building supplier in expansion plan

The owner of building trade supplier Howden Joinery has revealed that a “resilient” performance in the first half of 2009 could mean that expansion plans are back on track this year.

Earlier this year, kitchen cabinet business Galiform - which has 452 Howden outlets - postponed new openings due to the tough market conditions but said it may open a small number of depots if trading improved in October.

Although the firm’s like-for-like depot sales were down 9.8 per cent in the 24 weeks to June 13, the decline has slowed to 5.2 per cent since then.

As a result of weaker trading and higher pension contributions Galiform’s pre-tax profits also suffered, slumping to £4.7 million from £20.1 million.

Matthew Ingle, the company’s chief executive, said the resilient operating and financial performance of the business in difficult trading conditions was encouraging.

He added that the impact of a weaker pound had been offset by cost savings elsewhere, such as driving a tougher deal with suppliers and a new IT system at its base in Runcorn to improve planning and stock control.

Despite the downturn, Galiform still has long-term plans to expand the Howden business to 600 sites.