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Moss Bros fast tracks store refits as sales improve

Moss Bros has ramped up the number of store refits it will carry out in 2014 to 23 after its initial refurbishment programme boosted sales by 10%.

The retailer refitted nine stores in the 26 weeks to July 26, after completing 13 refits in 2013, meaning 49 out of 133 stores have so far been converted to the new look. It now plans to refit a further 14 stores in the second half of this year.

The new storefit features a lowered ceiling, new tiled flooring, wooden wall panelling, spotlights, revamped store signs and more prominent positioning of its retail product. Chief executive Brian Brick told Drapers the revamp, combined with a more contemporary offer, has brought in a younger customer, including those seeking prom outfits, and boosted retail sales.

“Sales are up 10% per annum in those stores and we’re going to ramp it up to 23 stores this year and the same next year. We’re changing the public’s opinion of what Moss Bros is about; people still think of us as a hire company, but that is only 15% of our business. The new stores really show off the product.”

Moss Bros this week reported a 4.6% year-on-year increase in total sales to £55.8m for the first half of 2014. Its operating profit slipped by £300,000 to £1.9m due to the store refit costs.

Like-for-like retail sales were up 8.5%, while like-for-like hire sales dropped by 2.7%. This was an improvement, however, on the 3.8% drop in hire sales in the first 16 weeks of 2014.

Brick said the second half was always stronger for the hire arm due Christmas, and he expects an improvement in the festive run-up.

Online sales grew 100% during the period, and now account for 6.8% of group revenue. Brick said he aims to grow the online business to between 15% and 20% of total sales over the next couple of years. To grow its multichannel offer Moss Bros said this week it is introducing Moss Premier next month, a delivery subscription similar to Amazon Prime or Asos Premier, offering customers unlimited next-day delivery. In June it introduced e-receipts in store and Login & Pay with Amazon.

The company said trading in the seven weeks to September 13 had been “encouraging”, with like-for-like sales up 6%. But Brick warned the warm September weather could have a detrimental impact on sales.

“At this time last year it was colder and if the temperature dropped we would be selling more outerwear, which has a higher price point,” he said, adding: “Saying that, light jackets are selling well and colourful suits are still popular with shoppers.”

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