Menswear chain Moss Bros has reported a full-year loss following what it described as an “extremely challenging year on many fronts”.
It posted a loss before tax of £4.2m for the year to 26 January 2019, compared with a profit of £6.7m the previous year.
Total group revenue was down 2.1% in the year to £129m, and group like-for-like retail sales slipped 4.3% to £140m.
Like-for-like retail sales including ecommerce slipped 3.6%, and like-for-like hire sales were down 9.3%.
Early-season stock shortages hit the retailer’s performance in the first half of the year.
Footfall was then affected by “abnormally hot and cold weather”, as well as sporting events over the summer, which Moss Bross said distracted customers from shopping.
In the second half, the retailer introduced deeper discounting in a bid to keep pace with what it labelled an increasingly promotional market.
Gross margin fell 2.3% to 57.5% for the year.
Brian Brick, chief executive, said: “It has been an extremely challenging year for the business on many fronts, but I am confident that we have made significant progress in a number of areas of the business. However, it is disappointing to be reporting an adjusted loss before tax for the group for the first time since 2010/11.”
He added: “As previously reported, 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. While we were able to improve our performance in the second half of the year, this was in part as a result of adopting a more aggressive trading stance in reaction to competitor activity. We saw positive sales momentum during the fourth quarter, but as a consequence of deeper discounting, the gross margin rates which we achieved were lower than planned.”
The retailer said trading performance had strengthened over the first eight weeks of 2019 – total sales were up 3.6% on last year – but remains volatile.