Our customers are professionals and they are not simply buying components from Howdens. Our depots offer them a complete, expert service that helps them plan, buy and fit complex kitchens with confidence, in a welcoming trade environment where they are served by familiar staff.
To see a Howdens depot visualised, click here (PC and tablets)
The typical Howdens depot occupies around 10,000 square feet. It consists of a counter area, where sales take place and products are displayed, office space and a warehouse, which occupies around 80% of the total depot space.
In the first instance, a new depot will have around six staff, including the manager. As the depot grows, the manager will employ new staff to facilitate further growth. A typical mature depot will have eight to ten staff.
A new depot will require capital expenditure of around £250,000 and initial stock of £100,000. A depot can be profitable when it reaches annual sales of around £650,000 - which it generally does during its second year of operating.
Apart from keeping all products sold by Howdens in stock, and having no part in the approval and management of customers' credit accounts, a depot manager is responsible for all decision-making in his or her depot. This includes decisions about which products to display, stock levels, local marketing, staffing and the discount to be given to each individual account holder who trades in the depot. Depot managers are of course responsible for the performance of their depot.
Howdens depot managers are typically promoted from within. With over 600 depots across the country, Howdens is able to offer depot staff more, and more varied opportunities than they would find elsewhere. In addition, a substantial part of the salary of depot managers and their staff is directly linked to the profitability of their depot. A system of flexible incentives is also used to drive particular aspects of performance at any one time.
The opportunities and rewards afforded by Howdens mean that turnover of depot employees is very low. This in turn means that staff are highly motivated and very knowledgeable about the products they sell. They are incentivised to focus on customer service and the continuing success of their depot.
Builders see the same faces whenever they go in to their local Howdens depot. They get to know our staff and trust them to give sound advice. The small builder relies on his local depot to offer a complete service: a range of well-designed, robust products that meet all his routine needs, credit terms that allow him to run a sustainable business, a free kitchen planning service that takes all the headaches out of layout and design, a fully stocked warehouse that allows him to pick up product whenever it suits him and, most importantly, the knowledge that problems can be solved immediately - local managers are authorised to swap any unsuitable items at their own discretion without reference to head office.