Howdens Joinery is a leading supplier of kitchens and joinery to trade customers across the UK. It has over 625 depots nationwide and believes there is scope for 650 in the longer term. Working to tight deadlines, it annually supplies over 200,000 building trade professionals with around 400,000 complete kitchens. In looking for an IT partner to support its 6,500 employees and its stringent data and voice management requirements, it chose Redcentric.

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Guaranteed performance in critical trading periods

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Freed up staff for added-value work

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Enabled delivery against an aggressive timeframe for growth


Howdens’ main customers are small local builders installing or renovating kitchens to tight timeframes. As soon as the company’s depots open at 7.30 am, there are large numbers of customers wanting immediate access to the kitchen and joinery products they need that day.

Clive Cockburn, CIO at Howdens, says “Despite our size, we see ourselves very much as a local business, supporting busy customers with local accounts, CAD planning services, quality products – and highly available systems. The immediate availability of supplies and support is a key feature of our service and success. It’s not acceptable for our systems to go down at any point in the busy day.”

When Howdens decided to outsource its network management, disaster recovery backup solution and voice systems to achieve cost and efficiency savings, one of the key requirements was that the chosen supplier would be able to support its exacting demand for a highly resilient, agile and efficient service. It wanted to ensure:

  • Core communications and IT systems would be available to all corporate sites, manufacturing & distribution locations, and trade depots 24 hours a day.
  • A cast-iron disaster recovery strategy would take over immediately if the main system failed, ensuring continuous
    access to hosted data.
  • Voice communications could be rolled out across the company, removing the time and cost of maintaining and managing some 500 in-house PBX telephone systems.
Redcentric has fully supported our aggressive timeframe for efficiency and growth – it’s played a key part in helping us open 30 new depots a year on time and to budget, and we expect to make significant cost savings over the five year contract by using its services.

How Redcentric helped

Howdens chose Redcentric to provide the fast, resilient and cost-effective service Clive Cockburn was looking for. It installed a copy of its production environment in the data centre at Redcentric’s headquarters and has added more racks and servers as needed.

At the same time, Redcentric ensured a well-managed transition from the traditional in-house PBX telephone system to its VoIP service, Unity IP Telephony. Since the initial rollout Howdens has continued to expand the Unity deployment and has brought every office and depot in the company into the same voice network.

The data and voice services are underpinned by Redcentric’s Managed Network Services.

As new offices come onboard, they are absorbed quickly and easily into the fold, enabling Howdens to meet critical time criteria for bringing new depots online.

Redcentric’s solutions have brought:

  • A single resilient private network linking all Howdens’ sites
  • Storage of Howdens’ corporate and commercial data in a secure private suite hosted at an Redcentric data centre, complementing Howdens’ own data centre and providing powerful disaster recovery and live system capabilities
  • Backup, monitoring and management of Howdens’ data, providing an extra disaster recovery layer
  • Managed IP telephony services across the entire company – critical to Howdens’ operations
  • A support regime which has been tailored for Howdens’ needs, catering for its busiest trading times of the year
  • A wealth of services which have allowed Howdens’ depots, warehouses and offices to take advantage of a wide range of cost-effective communications technologies, especially 4G/5G backup & Starlink satellite services, in locations with challenging connectivity
  • Managed firewalling services, which have taken the guesswork out of securing Howdens’ network
  • Voice service add-ons to allow Howdens to track missed customer calls and subsequently realise those customer opportunities, which would have been lost otherwise.
There are big benefits for us in terms of security and resilience in having data and voice services managed by Redcentric. We know that all our backups are held in a Redcentric data centre and this gives us an important safety net.

Business benefits

Redcentric’s solutions have brought integrated network, data and voice communication and disaster recovery
strategies to Howdens. The Redcentric data centre has brought added security along with both capital and operational cost savings, and the underpinning network provides a reliable and resilient core for the company’s voice and data. In addition, with the day-to-day management tasks now outsourced, the IT department can concentrate on frontend activities.

Business continuity: The fail-safe disaster recovery strategy created by the combination of data backed up to the Redcentric private suite and Redcentric’s own backup services means that Howdens’ systems are highly available even in the case of a major company incident or breakdown.

Cost savings: By removing the need to maintain and manage its 500 or so PBXs and by having an integrated service from a single provider, Howdens expects to benefit from significant cost savings.

Budget efficiency: The pay-as-you-go model of Redcentric’s voice and data services means Howdens is not paying for unused space and, as it expands the service, can predict future costs accurately.

Scalability: Extra capacity for all network, data and voice services is easily available for the predicted expansion of depots and for new service offerings to the end customer.

Expert support: The Redcentric data centre is supported and monitored by a specialist operations team 24/7, and Howdens has access to a dedicated account team at any time.

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