Formal wear retailer and hire specialist Moss Bros is "on course" to deliver expected growth in the current fiscal year thanks to surging internet sales, the company says.

Updating on performance for the 19- and 45-week periods to 7 December, the UK business said it had "continued to trade well".

Like-for-like sales were up 4.5% and 2.2% in the second half and year-to-date periods respectively, while total sales for the year to date had edged up 1.8%, the company reported.

It said hire sales had "stabilised" with the transition from the wedding to the evening wear seasons, but gross margin rate in the second half had fallen by 70 basis points thanks to the shrinking proportion of hire sales.

But e-commerce sales were the highlight, soaring by 194% in the year to date thanks to new retail websites in Ireland, Sweden and Denmark in the second half of the year, with plans to launch in Australia in 2014.

"We are encouraged by the trading momentum throughout the business, which has continued into the second half of this year, and we enter the important Christmas trading period in good shape," said CEO Brian Brick.

Moss Bros is due to report its full-year preliminary results on 26 March 2014.