Moss Bros focuses on online sales and improving margins

Helen Cahill
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Menswear retailer Moss Bros scored a healthy sales growth in the second half of 2016 as it focussed on improving its margins and its online offering.

In the 23 weeks from 31 July to 7 January, Moss Bros' like-for-like sales grew 6.1 per cent on the year before, with online sales jumping 24.9 per cent.

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Moss Bros' share price was up 3.5 per cent at time of writing.

"Our online business benefitted from the investment in 'back-end' systems and processes made during the first half," Moss Bros said.

The company reduced its promotions and continued to invest in its own label range, improving its gross margin by 1.4 per cent on the year before.

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Peel Hunt analysts said the like-for-like sales growth at the suit-seller was ahead of expectations and could bump up gross profit for 2017 by £2m - but they said it was likely Moss Bros would use the extra cash to invest in the business.

Brian Brick, Moss Bros chief executive, said: "We are very pleased with the performance of the business. Ongoing investment in new and refitted stores, alongside improved omni-channel capabilities have enabled us to continue the progress we made in the first half of the year."

He said that the upcoming year will be "challenging" due to the "uncertain consumer environment, wider political backdrop and higher input costs".

Moss Bros and other retailers will be struggling with higher costs due to the weak pound, rising business rates in London and the national living wage (which will increase at the beginning of April).