(Adds analyst comments, details; updates share movement)
May 23 British suit specialist Moss Bros Group
reported a decline in its high-margin hire-sales
business during the 16-weeks to May 17 as less people borrowed
outfits in a subdued UK wedding market.
Shares in the company fell as much as 4 percent in early
trading on Friday on the London Stock Exchange.
Moss Bros reported a rise in March wedding outfits booking
but cautioned that it was too early to say if this upturn would
"Hire sales are down 3.8 percent over the period, reflecting
continued weakness in the number of weddings," analyst John
Stevenson of Peel Hunt said in a note.
Hire sales contribute about 16 percent to overall sales.
The company, which sells and hires out formal clothing in
the UK through its Moss Bros, Moss, Moss Bros Hire and Savoy
Taylors Guild brands, however, said it remained confident about
the company's medium-term growth prospects.
The menswear specialist reported a 5.4 percent rise in total
sales for the period, while like-for-like sales increased 6.3
percent helped by increasing contribution from revamped stores
and the lower levels of residual stock.
Moss Bros, which operates 135 stores, revamped a further
seven stores so far this year as part of its five-year
refurbishment programme launched in 2012.
Like-for-like retail sales, including e-commerce, rose 8.5
percent helped by favourable customer response to new season's
Moss Bros has been aiming to build its online business,
which is growing steadily but currently accounts for 6.5 percent
of total sales.
The company has kept a lid on costs by avoiding heavy
discounting. Rival Debenhams had issued its second
profit warning in less than a year in December after a long-held
strategy of slashing prices failed to boost its crucial
Shares in the company were down 1.6 percent at 120.50 pence
at 0855 GMT.
(Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri in Bangalore; Editing by