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Moss Bros moots hire tie-up with indies

Moss Bros has laid down the gauntlet to other high street chains to collaborate with independent retailers with plans to launch Moss Bros Hire departments in menswear indies across the country.

The retailer, which runs the biggest menswear hire business in the UK through its Moss stores, is looking at ways to leverage its position and grow its hire business.
Moss Bros chief executive Brian Brick said this could include partnerships with other retailers, including menswear independents.

Brick stressed that no firm plans had been made, but said he was open to looking at putting Moss Bros Hire operations into other retailers including good independents. It is unclear whether Moss Bros will revisit opening hire departments in high street chain Burton, an idea first mooted last autumn.

Last week, retail guru Mary Portas called in Drapers for more multiples to join up with indies to fight back against the downturn and ghost-town phenomenon.
A Moss Bros partnership would be a boost for menswear indies, many of which have been hit hard by the downturn as men tend to cut spending on discretionary items such as clothing more significantly than female shoppers.

Some classic menswear indies already have hire departments but are likely to be interested in partnering with an experienced multiple which has critical mass.
Brick said: “I’m reviewing the strategy and looking at the strengths of the business to see what we could and couldn’t do. We have a very good brand in Moss and Moss Hire has a lot of potential.”
He added: “We have the number one brand in hire and there is potential for growth.”

Brick said the hire business was performing relatively well in the economic downturn. Despite increased competition from supermarkets and discount retailers - George at Asda introduced a £49 tuxedo last year - Brick said Moss Bros had not felt pressure to alter its hire pricing and said there were no plans to do so.

“The wedding business is robust, but black tie is less so as there are fewer functions,” added Brick. School-leaver and prom events are also boosting the hire sector.

Hire essentials

120 Moss Bros Hire departments in Moss shops
Eight HoF concessions
Hire sales up 0.8% like-for-like for 53 weeks to January 31
Hire business makes up 20% of Moss Bros’s business
Rental prices range from £45 to £119

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