• Pre-tax loss before exceptionals narrows to GBP3.9m
  • Like-for-like sales down 0.4%
  • Sees sales gains in current year to date

Tailored clothing retailer Moss Bros Group Plc today (25 March) said it had made "good progress" after narrowing its annual losses and booking sales gains in the first seven weeks of the current year.

The company, which owns the Hugo Boss franchise in the UK and operates chains such as Moss and Cecil Gee, said pre-tax losses fell to GBP3.9m (US$5.8m) before exceptional items in the 12 months to 30 January.

This compares with a pre tax loss of GBP5.0m in the previous year.

Including exceptionals, pre-tax loss was GBP6.6m, compared with a loss of GBP9.3m last year.

EBITDA before exceptional items more than doubled to GBP3.2m, from GBP1.4m last time.

Total group revenues fell 0.7% to GBP128.7m, and like-for-like sales fell 0.4% - but the retailer saw steady improvement as the year progressed.

It said like-for-likes were up 1.6% in second half against a first-half fall of 2.6%. Revenues were driven by strong suit sales, with current trading up 8% by volume.

Total gross margin also rose in second half, up 3.4 percentage points against level in first half, giving a full year lift of 1.8 percentage points.

"Current trading reflects strong like-for-like growth and our continued focus on the operational priorities, with the support of our strong balance sheet, gives me great confidence that we will fully leverage the potential of this business," said CEO Brian Brick.

The retailer said it had seen a 15% rise in like-for-like sales in the first seven weeks of the current year, with gross profit up by 12%.

"Strong current trading and the strength of our balance sheet with no debt, a strong average daily cash balance and a significant closing cash balance, will play a key role in the coming year," noted acting chairman Debbie Hewitt.

"We are confident that the operational progress that has been made in 2009 will drive the business towards profit."