The kitchens and joinery products giant has also invested £1.5m in a painted skirting board and architraves production facility at its Howden factory in Yorkshire, which will be fully operational this first quarter.

Sales at Howden UK depots in 2012 grew 4% to £872.5m, while operating profits were up to £119.8m (2011: £115.3m).
Howdens attibuted the 17% growth this year to an additional week of trading and the timing of a price increase. It expected growth to normalise through the coming months.

"For the rest of 2013, we expect market conditions to continue to be challenging and we remain cautious about the outlook," it said.
The group’s £20m two-year investment programme in cabinet production line facilities at its Howden and Runcorn manufacturing sites will be operational at the end of the first quarter and end of the first half respectively.

It expects to add 20-30 depots in 2013 to add to the existing 529 tally.

"Our performance allows us to continue to pursue growth opportunities, as we open new depots and invest in our supply chain, manufacturing capability and new products and address legacy issues," said chief executive Matthew Ingle.

Howdens has also introduced a system which allows it to provide builder customers’ clients with a video of the kitchen that has been designed for them.

The group added more than 20,000 net new credit accounts in 2012.