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Friday, 26 May, 2000, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Moss Bros to axe stores
Shoppers outside Moss Bros
Menswear retailer Moss Bros is to close a raft of under-performing stores in an attempt to halt a dramatic slide in profits.

A large number of jobs will go with the closures, although the company declined to estimate how many of its 1,500 staff face the chop.

The firm has suffered from the trend towards more casual workdress in the UK.

Moss Bros blamed its difficulties on having to cut prices, at the same time as costs have been rising.

This was partly the result of polarisation, with shoppers abandoning the middle market for either bargain stores or top-of-the-range designer clothes.

Moss Bros joins the large number of mid-range high street retailers in the UK to have suffered drastic declines in profits during the past two years or so.

There have already been widespread job losses and shop closures among big players such as Marks & Spencer, Arcadia and Storehouse.

Brands to be axed

Moss Bros said it planned to sell small and underperforming stores among its 200-strong chain during the next 18 months.

It is planning to axe one or more of its shop brands, which include the Savoy Taylors Guild, Blazer, Cecil Gee and The Suit Company.

It also plans to cut costs at its head office in London, where 120 staff are employed.

Excluding new stores or extra floorspace, sales fell by 2.5% in the 16 weeks to 20 May, although total sales were 7.8% ahead on the previous year.

Chairman Neil Benson said the group would report a loss in the first half.

Bros axes big day plans

"They have got too many formats - there is a move away with dressing down from formal (wear), and they have been the real exponent of formal," one analyst said.

The group said it would make a 12m provision for rationalisation, which once completed was expected to enhance operating profits by 2.4m.

Moss Bros also said it had decided not to proceed with the launch of its internet wedding portal Ourbigday, after entering discussions with wedding website Confetti.co.uk.

Moss Bros will now cross promote the Moss Bros Hire and Confetti brands and undertake joint marketing with Confetti.

Shares in Moss Bross tumbled on the news to close at 37.5p, down from 48p. They now stand at about a fifth of their value of a year ago.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Business
Arcadia ditches jobs and shops
18 May 00 | Business
UK retail sales fall
23 May 00 | Business
M&S confirms gloom
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