• Q1 total sales were down by 2.4% on last year.
  • The firm said it continues to recover from the stock related challenges experienced at the start of the current financial year.
  • Chairman of the board Debbie Hewitt, intends to step down over the course of the next 12 months. 
Shares in Moss Bros were up by 13.41% this morning (16 May)

Shares in Moss Bros were up by 13.41% this morning (16 May)

Shares in Moss Bros were up by more than 13% this morning (16 May), despite a sales slip in the first quarter, as the menswear retailer begins to recover from the stock related challenges it experienced at the start of the financial year.

Total sales for the 15 weeks ended 28 January were down by 2.4% on last year, while like-for-like sales also slipped, falling 5.2%. Like–for-like retail sales, including e-commerce, were also down 5.2%.

E-commerce sales, meanwhile, which now account for 13% of total sales, continued to increase, up 11% on last year.

The firm said it continues to recover from the stock related challenges experienced at the start of the current financial year, although a fragile and more volatile consumer environment continues. Even so, the board remains confident the business is on-track to meet market expectations for the year.

The news follows an announcement in March that Moss Bros is preparing for an "extremely challenging" retail environment in the year ahead, following a warning it expects profit for fiscal 2019 to be lower than current market expectations.

"Following a disappointing start to the year, our trading performance has, as anticipated, begun to improve, as a result of our improving stock availability. The wider trading environment however remains tough with a fragile consumer environment," said CEO Brian Brick.

"We remain conscious of the economic headwinds we face but will, as described in March, continue to invest in the areas that ensure we leverage our distinct position on the high street."

Brick added the firm will shortly enter a key period of its trading year, with wedding season, school proms and Ascot.

"We are well placed with our core offer and levels of stock availability to maximise our share of our customers' spend," he said.

Sofie Willmott, senior retail analyst at GlobalData, notes although Moss Bros saw an improvement in sales in the latter part of the part of the quarter, bolstering its performance for the period, the stock problems it has faced as a result of consolidating its supply base are clearly evident in the "dire results".

She adds, while growth rates have improved versus the first eight weeks of the financial year, performance is still behind that of its competitors and the tailoring specialist will need to ensure product availability is rapidly improved to claw back sales.

"With wedding and prom season fast approaching Moss Bros will be hoping that the mistakes made with its inventory have been corrected and the right product is available for shoppers to buy, in order to capitalise on the prime opportunity to turn around performance to buoy FY2018/19," Willmott says.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement, Moss Bros said its chairman, Debbie Hewitt, intends to retire from the board no later than the company's AGM on 15 May 2019. 

During the next 12 months, the board will undertake a search for her successor, with a further announcement concerning the appointment of her successor to be made in due course.

The group will announce its interim results on 25 September.