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Moss Bros plots trend-led future

Moss Bros will target younger, more fashion-conscious shoppers as the menswear group looks to re-energise following an aborted bid for the business.

Chief executive Philip Mountford said the group’s better than expected performance in the first quarter was driven by its more trend-led brands at its Moss chain, as well as sales at its Hugo Boss stores.

The company said that since the “distraction” of the bid by Icelandic investor Baugur had been removed it would concentrate on its three-year strategy, which will involve refurbishing the majority of its Moss stores.

Moss Bros will also open three more Hugo Boss franchise stores by the end of the year at Lakeside in Thurrock in Essex, Eldon Street in the City of London and Meadowhall in Sheffield, bringing its total to 19 stores.

The group’s total like-for-like sales fell 1.5% for the 19 weeks to June 7. Mountford said: “A lot of people expected us to be down double digits.

“The strategy is to reinvest in the core Moss business, to continue with store refits. We will also push ahead with slightly younger, more premium brands such as CK by Calvin Klein, Ben Sherman and Simon Carter, plus our Ventuno own brand.”

Mountford said that although the business had discounted at the beginning of the financial year, margin over the past 10 weeks had still improved thanks to better sourcing.

Laura Ashley once again increased its stake in Moss Bros this week, and now holds 10.5% of the shares.

Moss Bros has made a shortlist for a new chairman with a decision due within the next three weeks, although former retail director of airport operator BAA Barry Gibson is thought to be the frontrunner.

Mountford would not be drawn on speculation that he would leave the business once a chairman had been found.

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