September 26, 2013 / 7:36 AM / in 4 years

Moss Bros sales pick-up on new season ranges

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Moss Bros has seen sales growth accelerate in the early weeks of its second half as customers react favourably to new autumn/winter ranges, the British menswear specialist said on Thursday.

The suit specialist, which also reported flat first half profits, said sales at stores open over a year rose 4.9 percent in the eight weeks to Sept. 21.

That’s a step-up from flat like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to July 27, made up of retail sales up 1.7 percent but hire sales down 7.2 percent, reflecting reduced hire bookings for the 2013 wedding season.

The firm, which sells and hires out formal clothing through its Moss Bros, Moss Bespoke and Savoy Taylors Guild brands, made an underlying pretax profit of 2.2 million pounds ($3.53 million). Total revenue rose 1.2 percent to 53.3 million pounds.

Moss Bros said the impact of reduced hire bookings would reduce in the second half as it moves out of the wedding season into the eveningwear season.

“The board, although mindful of the fragile external trading environment, anticipates that the outturn for the full year will be in line with market expectations,” it said.

The firm is paying an interim dividend of 0.3 pence, up 50 percent.

Shares in Moss Bros were down 1 percent at 71.5 pence at 0717 GMT, valuing the business at 71 million pounds.

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