Moss Bros gets boost from weddings delayed by Olympics

Brian Brick, chief exec of Moss Bros
Brian Brick, chief exec of Moss Bros
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Menswear specialist Moss Bros is due to expand its online offering next year after bouncing back from a slow patch during the London Olympics.

Demand was affected during the first half of the year as customers had held off their wedding plans, but the firm said it has been able to recoup all the income it lost due to the Games.

In a trading update covering the 19 weeks to 8 December, Moss Bros said like-for-like sales were up 3.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, with its hire business performing “particularly well”.

Chief executive Brian Brick said an updated website will be launched in January, allowing customers to order suits for collection at its chain of more than 135 stores. Analysts had expected the site to be rolled out before Christmas, but the plans were delayed to avoid any disruption during the key festive season.

Brick said: “We are particularly pleased with the progress and resilience of our hire business, which has overcome the challenges posed by the summer’s sporting activities.”

The chain’s sales have been boosted by efforts to revamp its stores – 14 have been refurbished this year, delivering an average uplift of about 10 per cent and Moss Bros plans a further 25 in 2012-13 as part of a five-year plan to refit 90 outlets.

Brick said gross margins have recovered in the second half thanks to lower raw material costs, but the performance for the full year to 28 January will “as always depend on the level of discounting in the critical sale period in the final six weeks”.

Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson stuck to his pre-tax profit forecast of £1.7 million for the full-year, but added that the final figure could be higher if the firm can avoid cutting its margins by too much during the January sales.