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A bold new restaurant space introducing flexible working, dining, and socialising at the heart of Howden’s new state-of-the-art Northampton central offices.


  • Central flexible dining, socialising, and working restaurant hub environment
  • A full turn-key design and build project with energy efficiency designed into the commercial kitchen




As one of the largest names in the manufacture and supply of domestic integrated kitchens and joinery products, Howdens have achieved exponential growth in the industry from its inception in 1995. Employing over 6,500 nationally, the company recently celebrated supplying 3.5 million kitchen cabinets, 2 million doors, and over 400,000 complete kitchens from an extensive network of local depots to small builders and industry specialists.



As part of Howden’s continued expansion plans across the country, the company started development work on their second distribution center and large office space at Raunds in Northamptonshire. With approximately 400 people on site, the facility would house Marketing teams, Research and Product Development teams, Communications teams, Administration and Logistic departments.
IFSE were invited to submit a proposal, as part of a competitive tender, for the design, build, and delivery of a first-class restaurant space that would act as a flexible social hub for staff, visitors, and guest alike.



At the beginning of the process, the IFSE team conducted an extensive piece of market research to understand the local area and the catering options on offer within a five-minute driving/walking distance. Understanding that the new restaurant would face competition from at least 4 fast food outlets and a further 13 high street independent offers; the IFSE team were able to conclude that the new restaurant would need to have an appealing interior design and branded visual identity to keep diners away from the high street competition.
The solution: IFSE developed a new visual identity for the space, “The Den”. Whilst a play on the Howdens name, The Den would provide a branded environment that improves the quality of the space and the customer experience.



The Den servery would feature an open kitchen with freshly prepared meals being served directly onto the hot counter by the chef. Designing flexibility into the scheme, the hot counter featured our bespoke removal hot displays to allow the team to change the counter configuration depending on the seasonal menu or corporate event.

Replacing the linear and predictable style of traditional B&I catering, the team designed a state-of-the-art versatile chef’s table, crowning the center of the servery space. The chef’s table would display yogurts, cereals, fruits, and pastries for breakfast service, ambient salads for lunch service and cakes, sweets, and other grab and go items in the afternoon.

A large deli provides ample space for freshly prepared sandwiches, paninis, and pastries to be displayed. Two large capacity refrigerated multi decks, housed within a shop fit unit, provided generous space for the smoothies, soft drinks, and pre-prepared grab-and-go items. In an effort to queue-bust at peak times, the servery was designed around speed-of-service with five different hospitality points and mobile till island, creating a smooth and clear customer flow. The deli counter featured Howdens sourced FSC approved wood cladding, juxtaposed against arctic white countertops. Across the hot counter, fashionable hexagonal tiles were utilised which contrasted against the rustic-looking wooden-top chefs table in the center of the space. Metro subway tiles, combined with dark metal ceiling-suspended gantries added to the ‘modern-industrial vibe’.



The main goal was to design and install an energy-efficient commercial kitchen, in line with Howdens sustainability goals, and utilise equipment that would remain fit for purpose for the next 10 to 15 years.
The all-electric kitchen features a central cooking island at its heart, serving directly onto the hot counter. Utilising energy-efficient Electrolux induction technology as well as the high-capacity bratt pan and combination oven, the result is a space that minimises heat output from the equipment, reducing energy consumption and reducing heat/energy loss as a result.



Our designers focused on creating an environment that felt open, modern and inviting, that would incorporate dining, relaxation, flexible working and casual meetings into one space.

Communal wooden Wagamama-style bench seating centralised the space, designed to emphasize bringing people together. With ample seating space for up to 160 seats, a mixed style of furniture has been utilised to achieve a modern-industrial effect. Flanked by two long and attractive banquette seats around the sides, the non-fixed furniture featured durable and long-lasting metal industrial chairs, mixed with black and themed painted wooden chairs to carry the brand colour. Soft grey fabric bucket chairs add an upmarket feel to the environment. The final feature of the space was the colourful 4-seater Caves in the centre of the environment. A reinvention of the traditional booth, the caves form a more private space for casual meetings or a collaboration space.
The result was an inviting and flexible dining, working, and socialising space acting as a hub for the entire facility.


Steven Hussey, Commercial Manager at IFSE who spearheaded the project said:

“The team and I are overjoyed to work alongside Howdens to deliver a top-quality flexible restaurant social hub at the heart of the new offices at Raunds. The Den restaurant is a testament to the company’s desire to provide state-of-the-art facilities for staff, guests and visitors. The Den represents some of the IFSE teams best work and we look forward to seeing the employees at Howdens enjoy it too.”




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