Moss Bros sinks to £9m loss but suit sales rebound

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The Independent Online

Moss Bros, the branded suit specialist, posted a widening loss of £9m in the year to the end of January, but said suit sales had rebounded recently as British office workers smarten up during the recession.

The retail group, which operates Moss menswear stores, as well as franchise stores for the brands Canali, Hugo Boss and Simon Carter, said that like-for-like unit sales of suits increased by a fifth in the six weeks since its financial year ended.

Brian Brick, the chief executive at Moss Bros, who took the helm this month, said: "People who are in work want to look smart. They don't want to stand out as the scruffy one in the office in case of redundancies. People who are out of work want to look smart for job interviews."

Over the year to 31 January, Moss Bros posted a loss of £9.28m, which included exceptional costs related to the failed indicative offer made by Baugur, the collapsed Icelandic investor, last year, and a writedown in the fixed asset values of certain stores.

The pre-tax loss, before exceptional items, was £5m, compared with a profit of £200,000 the year before.

Moss Bros does not plan to open any new stores this year. Mr Brick said that Moss Bros has "no debt"and has a "robust" balance sheet. Group like-for-like sales fell by 3.2 per cent over the year and its total sales margin was level with last year.