Men's wear and formal hire company Moss Bros saw its first-half losses more than double as tough trading conditions sent revenues down nearly 3% on last year.

But the retailer continues to forecast that its full-year results can meet market expectations, pointing to a more robust beginning to its second half and a stronger board structure.

Revenues at the UK company fell 2.9% to GBP61.1m (US$113.2m) in the six months to 26 July, with group like-for-like sales dropping 2.6%.

For mainstream fascias, retail like-for-likes were down 6.1%, but the company's hire business posted a like-for-like increase of 2.5%. Fashion fascias were also ahead by 0.4%.

That left Moss Bros with a pre-tax loss of GBP1.6m, compared to a loss of GBP0.7m for the same period last year - despite a 40-point surge in gross margin brought about by the company's strategy of sourcing more products from the Far East, plus fewer discounts.

But CEO Philip Mountford scented a recovery in early second-half trading, with like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks of the period flat, while gross margin growth was maintained.

"The board has been strengthened and the company is in a good position to take full advantage of a shift in customers' desire towards higher-priced contemporary and fashionable formal wear," said Mountford.

"Recent trading has shown the branded strength and customer appeal of the fascias we operate, and for that we have no reason to alter the market's full-year expectations."

Moss Bros' recent strategic shift has included more sourcing in the Far East, investment in IT systems, plus the refurbishment of Moss stores to make them "more contemporary".

Icelandic investment group Baugur, which has a 29% stake in the company, abandoned a takeover bid for Moss Bros earlier this year after fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley increased its stake in the business.

Meanwhile, Moss Bros announced that Rowland Gee was stepping down from the company's board with immediate effect - months ahead of his expected departure in February 2009.