Tailored clothing retailer Moss Bros has seen a "marked improvement" in trading since August, with like-for-like sales up 5.5% on last year.

Issuing an interim management statement for the period from 2 August to 5 December, the UK company added that the first 44 weeks of 2009 have yielded a 2.2% sales rise, with like-for-likes up 0.5%.

Year-to-date gross margin was also up on last year, despite a highly promotional market, Moss Bros added.

"During this year, the business has made operational changes which have resulted in a markedly improved trading position," said Brian Brick, company chief executive.

"Performance in our core competence of suits has been impressive… We are ever mindful of the uncertainty in trading conditions that lie ahead, but the business is well-placed to thrive in any economic climate."

Moss Bros said the company had opened three new stores in the second half of the year, in time to take advantage of the key Christmas shopping period. And it added that, should current trends continue, the company's improved sales performance should have a "materially positive" impact on its results for the year as a whole.