Moss Bros swings to loss as woes mount

Moss Bros has swung to a full year loss after the menswear retailer was hit by stock shortages, extreme weather and heavy discounting.

The high street chain booked a £4.2 million loss for the 52 weeks to January 26, which compares to a profit of £6.7 million in a year earlier.

Revenues were also down 2.1% at £129 million and like-for-like sales dropped 4.3% as the hot summer and the World Cup also dented demand for suits.

Brian Brick, chief executive, described the year as “extremely challenging”.

He said: “We suffered from a combination of a significant stock shortage and extremes of weather, alongside sporting distraction in the first half, which impacted footfall into our stores.

“Whilst we were able to improve our performance in the second half of the year, this was in part as a result of adopting a more aggressive trading stance in reaction to competitor activity.

“We saw positive sales momentum during the fourth quarter, but as a consequence of deeper discounting, the gross margin rates which we achieved were lower than planned.”

The full-year figures show that like-for-like hire sales fell 9.3%, although web sales jumped 19.6%.

Earlier this month, Joules boss Colin Porter was lined up as the new chairman of Moss Bros.

Mr Porter has been appointed as a non-executive director and will replace current chairman Debbie Hewitt when she retires in May after nine years in the post.

However, he will be presented with a full in-tray on his arrival, with Mr Brick adding: “Looking forward, in common with many UK retailers, we continue to anticipate an extremely challenging retail landscape, particularly within our physical stores, as a result of reduced footfall and rising costs.

“Alongside the macro trend of more retail transactions moving online, we expect the uncertain consumer environment and significant cost headwinds to continue.”