Kitchens group Howdens says it plans to return surplus cash to shareholders after a bumper 2014 that saw it post record sales.

The Yorkshire case goods vertical — which has its own manufacturing operation serving its national network of trade depots — says it will return £70m to shareholders over the next two years.

Its share buyback programme will start shortly, and follows a year in which group revenue jumped 14 per cent to £1.09bn and pre-tax earnings by 40 per cent to £188.8m.

Howdens said it opened 30 new depots during the year — to bring its running total to close to 600 sites — while 2015 sales are already nearly 10 per cent ahead.

Net cash inflow through 2014 totalled £77m and brought year-end net cash to £218m, up from £141m at the end of 2013.