High school proms help Moss Bros back to black

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The Independent Online

Teenagers splashing out on a suit for their school prom helped Moss Bros deliver a sharp jump in sales and its first half-year profits for five years.

The prom night trend and a successful Royal Ascot saw Moss Bros Hire deliver record sales in the six months to 30 July, although its retail business also benefited from more schoolboys buying suits.

Brian Brick, the chief executive of Moss Bros, said: "We have focused on the younger and the prom market." Ahead of the peak prom season from May, the retailer ran a pack offer for a suit, shirt and tie at £129. "The kids are wearing suits a bit more. They go clubbing in a suit and they want to dress up more," Mr Brick said.

As a group, Moss Bros posted a 15.4 per cent surge in like-for-like sales over the six months.

This and a rise in gross margins helped Moss Bros register pre-tax profits of £2.2m, compared with a loss of £2.8m last year. This marked its first return to black since 2006, while total revenues rose by 17.3 per cent to £51.83m.

Moss Bros's underlying sales continued to be "strong" in the eight weeks to 24 September but its gross margin was hit by rising raw material prices over this period.