Moss Bros sales fall

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Total sales at Moss Bros for the 24 weeks to 11 January fell 3% year on year, while like-for-like sales were down 3.2%.

Retail sales, including ecommerce and wholesale, comprised more than 92% of group revenue during the period and were 1.6% lower than last year and 1.8% lower on a like-for-like basis.

Online sales were down 0.4% on last year. Online comprised 17% of group revenue during the period, up from 16.6% last year.

Hire sales, which account for just under 8%, were 17.7% lower on a like-for-like basis than 2019.

The retailer said it had made “good progress” with its strategy to transform the business, underpinned by a strong balance sheet and flexible store portfolio.

A key focus in the period was delivering full-price sales with less old-season stock to clear. It said this was successful and has resulted in improved retail gross margin rates, which were up 300 basis points on the prior year.

The group expects to report a full-year adjusted loss before tax (pre-IFRS16) of approximately £1m.

One new store opened during the year to date, two stores were relocated and two stores closed. The total estate is now 128 stores. The business said it maintains flexibility in its store portfolio, with the average remaining lease length to either the next break or expiry being 28 months.

Brian Brick, chief executive, said: “As I noted at the time of our interim results in September, we are gaining traction across a number of strategic levers which are aligned with our longer-term strategic goals.

“We have seen more intensive discounting from our competitors and a materially lower level of footfall across the high streets and shopping centres of the UK. Despite this, we have resisted discounting pressures, facilitated by our careful buying plans which have meant that we are holding lower levels of terminal stock to clear. This has been particularly evident in our high street stores, where we were able to focus on delivering our core purpose of styling individuals for on form moments.

“Despite the delivery of progress against our strategic levers, we anticipate the year ahead will continue to be challenging until we see an improvement in consumer confidence and a stabilisation in footfall across UK shopping destinations combined with a re-alignment of occupancy costs to properly balance the costs and rewards of doing business in physical retail stores.

“We remain debt free, with a strong balance sheet, and are confident in our ability to deliver enhanced returns to our shareholders over the longer term”.