Last of the Moss family leave ailing menswear retailer

By Nigel Cope,City Editor
Thursday 29 November 2001 01:00

The last two members of the Moss family, which formed the Moss Bros menswear retailer in the 1870s, are to leave the board. The exit of Peter Moss and his cousin David will leave the struggling retailer without a Moss family director for the first time in the group's history.

David Moss, retail operations director, has left the company with immediate effect after 15 years with the group. He is expected to receive around £125,000 compensation. His cousin Peter, who is a non-executive director, will retire in a year's time.

The company denied the changes were related to the group's trading performance, which has been hit by two profit warnings in the past two months. It is thought that Moss Bros, now chaired by a former WH Smith finance director Keith Hamill, is keen to bring in more experienced management. The Moss family will retain its shareholding in Moss Bros. Together with the Gee family, it owns 38 per cent of the shares.

The group denied a boardroom rift between the two families. It also said there was no talk of a buyout of the group, which is now worth just £24m. Cantor Fitzgerald, the American broker, has recently acquired a 3.5 per cent stake. Shami Ahmed, the Joe Bloggs fashion entrepreneur, also has a holding.

Moss Bros, which includes the Cecil Gee and Code stores, has been hit by declining tourist spending in central London. Last week the group said its full-year results would be "materially worse than last year".

Rowland Gee, managing director, said sales had initially recovered after the terrorist attacks of 11 September but then fallen in October and stayed flat. It has been suggested that the group may seek to concentrate more on casual clothing and its traditional hire business and reduce its emphasis on suits. There have been question marks about the merits of the group's new Code concept, which has absorbed the Blazer chain. The shares closed 1.5p lower at 25p yesterday.

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