May 23, 2014 4:58 pm

Lack of weddings hit Moss Bros hire sales

Moss Bros reported a jump in sales in its first quarter even after the arrival of same-sex weddings failed to spur the extra sales predicted in March by Brian Brick, the suit-seller’s chief executive.

Hire sales fell 3.8 per cent as a lack of weddings knocked the formalwear part of the business.

Mr Brick said: “Hire sales are below last year’s levels, although, being 16 per cent of overall group sales, the impact of this shortfall is more than offset by the strong performance on retail.”

In total, like-for-like sales rose 6.3 per cent for the 16 weeks to May 17.

The increasing popularity of secondary school proms has provided some relief for the group in terms of hirewear, which accounts for just under a fifth of the group’s sales.

On top of this, a trend to smarter dressing among young men in general has helped Moss Bros post rapid growth over the past year, as younger shoppers spend more on smarter clothes.

This performance has been seen across the sector, with other labels that specialise in smart casual – such as the British brand Ted Baker – also posting rapid growth.

Internet sales more than doubled after Moss Bros launched its new website last year, which had previously been delayed.

Although online sales make up just 6.5 per cent of the total, this figure is rising as trends such as “click and collect” lend themselves to buying clothing that rely heavily on fit, such as suits. In general, most fashion retailers have at least 20 per cent of sales online.

Moss Bros has also started selling abroad – in Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austrlaia – which account for 6 per cent of online sales.

Mr Brick cited the effects of refitted stores and more effecitve use of stock for the improved performance.

As a result Moss Bros has been one of the best performing stocks in the retail sector.

Shares in the group, which stood at 73p at the start of the year, fell 1.25 per cent at the close on Friday to 121.25p.

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