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Moss Bros sells off Cecil Gee to free up cash for core business

Moss Bros, the menswear group, will remain committed to its formal menswear chain Savoy Taylors Guild after disposing of its Cecil Gee chain for £1.7m to JD Sports Fashion.

Moss Bros, which sold its eight Cecil Gee stores and stock this week, will use the cash to invest in its core Moss business, including the expansion of Savoy Taylors Guild.

Moss Bros chief executive Brian Brick said the disposal of Cecil Gee, which merged with Moss Bros in the 1990s, meant the group had finished slimming down to focus on its Moss business. It sold its 15 Hugo Boss franchise stores back to Hugo Boss for £16.5m in February.

Savoy Taylors Guild is Moss Bros’s premium offer, selling brands not available in Moss including Paul Smith and Canali, as well as own-branded casualwear. It has 10 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, including four in the City of London.

Brick declined to comment on how many stores Savoy Taylors Guild could have, but said: “There are cities where we can have Savoy Taylors Guild and Moss.”

Investment will also be made in Moss Bros’s new-format stores, which house its Moss retail offer, suit hire offer and Bespoke chain under one roof.

Like-for-likes at Moss Bros in the 20 weeks to June 18 grew 13.4%, driven by the ongoing strong performance of formalwear in the menswear sector.

Moss Bros said it forecast to put in a performance ahead of expectations in the full year. “We are well on the way to profitability,” Brick said.

Moss Bros narrowed its pre-tax losses from £3.9m to £2.7m in the year to January 29.

Gross margins were ahead of last year but Brick added that the rising price of raw materials would continue to have an effect on prices in store, but declined to say by how much. “We are concerned about it. It was cotton [price hikes] last year and it is wool this year,” he said.

The Gee family was one of the founding family members of Moss Bros along with the Moss family. They remained shareholders until selling their stake to Berwin & Berwin managing director Simon Berwin in 2008.

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