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Howdens warns it will leave Northampton if national DC plans are refused

Howdens depot Grimsby

Howdens Joinery, the £1bn-turnover manufacturer and supplier of kitchen and joinery products, has warned it could leave Northampton if its plans to build a new 2.66 million sq ft national distribution centre (NDC) are refused.

The group currently employs about 650 staff across three sites in the town and has had a presence there for 35 years.

Northampton is a central hub for Howdens' supply of bought-in products to its depots, due to its location and access to road networks and skilled employees. A number of main support functions are also located in the town.

The group said its current NDC at Brackmills no longer provides sufficient warehousing space to support its growth after it invested £20m to increase capacity at two factories in 2013.

The proposal for the new hub was lodged by Howden Joinery Group, which owns Howdens Joinery, and will be developed by joint-applicant Roxhill. The plans have earmarked a site adjacent to junction 15 of the M1 for the major scheme, which represents a £250m investment into the local economy.

If the development is given the go ahead, Howdens expects its workforce to increase to 1,000 staff once the NDC is fully established.

"Howdens has a long heritage in Northampton. We have a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced workforce, the majority of whom have been with us for more than ten years and we want to retain. For all these reasons, we want to stay in Northampton," said chief executive Matthew Ingle.

"If Howdens is unable to move to a new site in Northampton in a suitable timescale, which enables us to retain our existing workforce, then the Group will have to secure an alternative appropriate location elsewhere in the UK."

Ingle added that Howdens is eyeing junction 15 following consultations with local residents and that the move will alleviate traffic jams in the area.

"Sites at Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) and junction 16 of the M1 are not viable alternatives for Howdens," he said.

"The former is too far from Northampton and is focused on rail transport; which Howdens only makes limited use of; and the latter is not an option because of the size of site Howdens requires.

"Securing and occupying a new NDC and office facility is a strategic priority for Howdens. The site adjacent to Junction 15 is ideal for our purposes. If planning consent is not granted, a relocation away from Northamptonshire will be necessary in order to achieve our strategic objective.

"This would be deeply regrettable as our preference is to remain and continue to grow in Northampton."

Source : Insider Media
http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/midlands/130892-howdens-warns-northampton-departure-if-ndc-plans-refused/

09 January 2015

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