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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Moss Bros racks up loss
Shoppers outside Moss Bros
Menswear retailer Moss Bros has fallen into the red to the tune of 16m after being hit by the costs of a drastic shake-up of its shop portfolio.

The group unveiled plans in May to axe under-performing stores and cut jobs in an attempt to restore profits growth.

It intends to keep its Cecil Gee and Hugo Boss chain, but plans to convert most of its Suit Company, Savoy Taylors Guild and Blazer outlets to a new format selling at "affordable" prices.

Moss Bros said it had made steps to sell its underperforming stores, with 17 already gone under the hammer and a further 13 in solicitors' hands.

The 12m cost of the shake-up saw the company report a 16m loss for the six months to 29 July, against a 2.6m profit for the same period a year earlier.

Pinstripe hit

Turnover rose to 71.6m against 66.6m but like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of new store openings or closures, were down 2%.

Since the end of the half-year, like-for-like sales improved but were still down 1%.

Moss Bros added that the Christmas and New Year trading periods would be critical to determining the outcome for the year.

Managing director Rowland Gee said: "Suits in fashion terms are doing very well but the classic pinstripe look has taken a hit."

"Menswear is rather a lacklustre market," he added.

Code hopes

Mr Gee said the group was rolling out its new "Code" format, featuring more casual clothes, and had opened two trial stores in London's Clapham and in Southampton.

The Code name was chosen because it was "short and memorable", as well as standing for "casual office dressing and essentials".

"I think the future is very bright - as a company we have been around for over 150 years - this is another adjustment. We are a determined bunch of people. It is painful but it is the right thing to do."

Shareholders will get no dividend, against 2.1p last time.

Moss Bros has appointed Julian Kilmartin, until recently menswear product director at Next, as group buying and merchandising director.

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See also:

26 May 00 | Business
Moss Bros to axe stores
13 Apr 00 | Business
Arcadia ditches jobs and shops
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UK retail sales fall
23 May 00 | Business
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