The Howden Joinery Group's unchanged dividend policy is to target a dividend cover of between 2.5x and 3.0x, with one third of the previous year's dividend being paid as an interim dividend each year.As a result, the Board will recommend to shareholders a 2020 final dividend of 9.1p per ordinary share, equating to a dividend cover of 2.7 times. In addition, the Board has decided that the Group will pay a special dividend of 9.1p per ordinary share, equivalent to the cancelled 2019 final dividend.
The final dividend payment in respect of 2020 of 9.1p per share will, if approved by shareholders, be paid on 18 June 2021, with an ex-dividend date of 20 May 2021 and a record date of 21 May 2021. The special dividend of 9.1p per share will be paid on the same timetable as the final dividend. The cash being returned to shareholders through these dividend payments totals £107.8m.
Other financial highlights include:
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Howdens, the Group adapted and traded robustly overall with revenue of £1,547.5m (2019: £1,583.6m). Howden Joinery UK depot revenue reduced by 2.6% to £1,509.6m (2019: £1,550.3m), and by 4.5% on a same depot basis;
Gross profit margin of 60.1% (2019: 62.3%), reflected mix changes, pricing and the impact of carrying fixed costs during reduced levels of production due to COVID-19;
Profit before tax was £185.3m (2019: £260.7m), reflecting the lower gross profit, together with a modest increase in operating costs;
(in lieu of the cancelled final dividend for 2019), totalling £108m;
Net cash of £430.7m (2019: £267.4m), enhanced by the timing of c.£60m of supplier payments due after year end. The Group repaid Government support received earlier in the year ahead of the year end.