Men's wear retailer Moss Bros Group Plc today (27 September) delivered an upbeat half-year trading report with higher sales helping to push it back into the black, and said it is on course to deliver better than expected growth by the year-end.

The suit specialist said trading the first two months of the second half "has continued to be encouraging," with like for like sales continuing to be strong, but gross margin hurt by rising raw material prices.

This comes after it swung to a pre-tax profit of GBP82.2m (US$3.4m) in the six months to 30 July.

Like for like sales grew by 15.4%, and gross margin rose 2.7 percentage points to 62.6%. Results were helped by record sales for Moss Bros Hire and a simpler operating model following the sale of its Hugo Boss and Cecil Gee businesses.

"Whilst the economy has not materially picked up, the group has traded well ahead of last year across both hire and retail in the first six months of the year," said CEO Brian Brick. "This trend has continued into the second half, albeit at a lower level than the first half due to strengthening comparatives."