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Howdens cancels retail accounts with DIY stores and builders merchants

Published: 26 April 2012
A number of DIY retailers and builders merchants across an area of London received calls from a Howdens depot this week, telling them their accounts with the joinery supplier were being closed forthwith because they "did not want anyone re-selling our doors."
Howdens told DIY Week that it has long been its policy not to supply retailers or builders merchants, a stance disputed by DIY retailers who have held accounts with the joinery company "for years".

Head of investor relations Gary Rawlinson told DIY Week: "We're not a wholesaler and we don't sell to DIY shops or builders merchants - our customers are builders themselves."

Mr Rawlinson added that it may have been the case that Howdens products had been re-sold to retailers and builders merchants by account-holders, and that this was something the company was addressing.

One of the London-based retailers who received the call from Howdens told DIY Week that, not only had his business held an account with the supplier for years, he was one of many DIY retailers and builders merchant account-holders.

"When I asked them why they were closing our account they said they didn't want anyone else re-selling their doors. I don't understand - any trades person they are supplying is effectively re-selling their products because it would be built into the price of the work they do.

"It doesn't make any sense - they are driving away people who would sell their products. Why? The only thing that makes sense to me is if they are planning to sell directly to the consumer themselves but they assured me this wasn't the case."

It is not known whether this crackdown on retail accounts is isolated to one particular London depot or if it is more widespread. The retailer was informed by Howdens that the orders had come direct from head office.

With regards to Howden's policy, the retail customer said the company would have been well aware of the nature of his business when the account was set up, adding: "The name of the shop would be a bit of a giveaway!"

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