Belfast Telegraph

Moss Bros warns over profits for 2017 and 2018 amid ‘extremely challenging’ trading

The group said like-for-like store sales slumped 8% since the start of December amid intense competition to attract dwindling numbers of shoppers.

Menswear retailer Moss Bros has warned over profits after a tough December saw fewer shoppers visit its stores.

It warned 2018 earnings will also be hit in an “extremely challenging” year ahead.

The group said like-for-like store sales had slumped 8% since the start of December amid intense competition on the high street as retailers slashed prices to offset tough trading.

It saw overall retail comparable sales edge 0.4% higher in the 23 weeks of its second half to January 6 thanks to a 12.3% leap in online sales and a better performance in stores between August and November.

But the poor trading over the crucial festive period means it now expects full-year profits for the year to the end of January to come in slightly below market expectations, at between £6.5 million and £6.8 million.

It added that profits for 2018-19 are also expected to be impacted as it plans to continue investing in the business in the face of ongoing high street woes.

Moss Bros joins a growing list of high street firms that have suffered amid a highly promotional and difficult December, with profit warnings from Debenhams last week and Mothercare on Monday.

Brian Brick, chief executive of Moss Bros, said: “We faced a very tough December trading environment, which led to a significant reduction in store footfall and a hardening of the corresponding competitive environment in which we operate.”

He added: “In common with many UK retailers, the year ahead looks like being an extremely challenging one, not least because of the uncertain consumer environment, wider political backdrop and significant cost headwinds we face from a weaker pound, business rates and increasing employee related costs.”

But he said investment in the group was vital to “protect our position”, although this will “inevitably impact anticipated profits for full-year 2018-19”.

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