Moss Bros in office suit push

MENSWEAR retailer Moss Bros is hoping demand for suits from office workers will help it narrow full-year losses.

Moss Bros made a pre-tax loss of £3.3m for the six months to 31 July versus a loss of £3m in the same period last year, as costs increased faster than sales.

However, revenue rose 7.9 per cent to £65.6m.

Chief executive Brian Pick said: “If it’s tough [the jobs market] people will look after themselves for work. “They do not want to stand out as the scruff in the office.”

Pick said he was encouraged by trading in the second half so far and was on track to meet internal expectations for the full year.

He added: “Our black tie hire and sales business has improved as companies are spending on parties and hospitality again. It’s nothing like it was before the downturn but its is improving.”

Moss Bros is also trying to attract a younger customer that is less impacted by the economic downturn. It also added its wedding business was proving resilient.

“The weddings that will be booked for next year will still happen. If people are going to have tailcoats they will have tailcoats,” said Pick.

Prior to yesterday’s update shares in the group, which owns the Moss, Cecil Gee and Savoy Taylors Guild chains and runs the UK franchise operation of Hugo Boss, had lost a quarter of their value over the last year. Moss Bros said like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks of the second-half showed an improvement on 2009, with gross margin slightly higher.

The company also said it was reviewing its costs.