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Sunday 18 August 2019

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Moss Bros posts losses as e-commerce sales rise

Written by Hannah McGrath
26/03/2019

Moss Bros has recorded its first annual loss since 2001 amid “volatile” trading conditions, balanced by a 19.6 per cent growth in e-commerce sales, which now represent 14.5 per cent of total sales at the group.

The men’s fashion retailer reported a pre-tax loss of £4.2 million for the 52 weeks to 26 January, compared to £6.7 million profit in 2017-2018.

Total group revenue was down 2.1 per cent on the previous year at £129 million, while group like-for-like sales were down 4.3 per cent at £140.3 million.

Total sales were up 3.6 per cent on last year, driven by growth in e-commerce and wholesale channels.

The group said the results were impacted by a range of challenges afflicting the UK High Street, which have created a “volatile trading environment”, including Brexit, “abnormally” hot and and cold weather, as well as “lower retail store sales, weaker sterling and significant cost headwinds”.

However, the continued growth of the group’s e-commerce activities as a percentage of sales provided relief, with e-commerce sales up 19.6 per cent, from 13. 5 per cent growth last year.

The percentage of mobile and tablet sales growth was especially strong, the group said, and now comprises 52 per cent of total e-commerce sales.

Total capital expenditure in the year was £6.2 million, reflecting reduced levels of investment in physical stores and refurbishments and the final elements of IT infrastructure upgrades.

Chief executive Brian Brick said it was “disappointing” to report an adjusted loss before tax.

“It has been an extremely challenging year for the business on many fronts, we suffered from a combination of a significant stock shortage and extremes of weather, alongside sporting distraction in the first half, which impacted footfall into our stores.”

Looking forward, he said the group anticipated “an extremely challenging retail landscape”, particularly with regard to physical stores, as a result of reduced footfall and rising costs.

Brick continued: “Alongside the macro trend of more retail transactions moving online, we expect the uncertain consumer environment and significant cost headwinds to continue.

In his review of the rise in e-commerce sales, he added: “Visitor numbers and conversion showed good growth across all device types and particularly so from customers reaching us via mobile devices.

“Increasingly sophisticated use of technology has enabled us to understand how our customers interact with our e-commerce site and allows us to tailor their on-site experience and our communications to them appropriately.”



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