Belfast Telegraph

Moss Bros profits rise 21% as revamped stores boost sales

Menswear specialist Moss Bros has seen profits leap by more than a fifth as revamped stores and the demand for lounge suits helped lift sales.

The retailer, which has 124 stores, said annual pre-tax profits rose 21% to £5.8 million after its hiring division benefited from an increase in rentals for weddings, school proms and Royal Ascot.

It said g roup like-for-like sales rose by 8.2% to £119 million in the 52 weeks to January 30 2016, as moves to improve its brand reduced its need to discount products.

It also said its store re-fit programme - which has led to 81 shops being modernised across the UK - had also played a part in driving growth.

Shares in the company soared on the back of the results, rising more than 4%.

Chief executive Brian Brick said the firm was making "strong progress" in its efforts to grow the business.

" The modernisation of the store portfolio, which is nearing completion, is achieving the anticipated returns and we have well developed plans for the implementation of our multi-channel shopping environment.

He added: "The early response to the 2016 spring/summer retail range has been positive and retail like-for-like sales and gross margins are continuing to improve year on year.

"The broadening of our hire offer to include lounge suits is underpinning a positive start to the 2016 hire season."

The company said like-for-like retail sales rose 7.6% over the period, while hire sales stepped up 11.7%. It was also boosted by a surge in online sales, up 36.3% on the previous year.

The strong annual performance comes after it announced in February that two industry heavyweights would join the company to help drive growth.

Tony Bennett had been appointed as group finance director, taking over from Robin Piggott who is retiring from the firm.

Mr Bennett - who will take up the role in mid-August - is currently the finance director at menswear retailer Charles Tyrwhitt. He was previously head of commercial finance at department store Selfridges.

He will join Paul Minowa, who has taken up the role of chief operating officer following a strong career in retail at Asda, Boots, Ann Summers and German lifestyle retailer Strauss Innovation.

Analysts at Liberum said: "The outlook is increasingly positive as the business has put in place the systems over the past few years which are only at the start of what we view as achievable and sustainable growth over the next few years."