Suit hire sales boost Moss Bros

FORMAL menswear retailer Moss Bros has narrowed its full-year underlying losses thanks to a record result in its suit hire division.

The firm posted an underlying loss of £2.7m for 2010, compared to £3.9m a year earlier, after like-for-like sales rose by nine per cent.

But its full-year pre-tax loss widened to £7.5m from a loss of £6.6m in 2009, after it took a £4.8m exceptional charge.

Suit hire revenues rose by 11 per cent, after the collapse of rivals like Suits You and Speciality Retail Group, the parent of Young’s Hire. Clothes sales were up nine per cent.

The firm said sales growth had fallen to eight per cent in the first two months of the new financial year but attributed this to tougher comparatives.

The narrower loss follows a turaround plan devised by new chief executive Brian Brick.?Earlier this month, he sold the firm’s 15 Hugo Boss stores for £16.5m to free up cash for investment.

Moss Bros, which also trades under the Savoy Taylors Guild and Cecil Gee brands, said it would continue to buy Hugo Boss merchandise on a wholesale basis to sell in its remaining stores.

Altium Securities analysts said the result was slightly ahead of expectations and its year-end cash position of £6.9m was £2.1m better than had been expected.