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Suit hire business is turning around, says Moss Bros chief

Sales in the suit hire arm of Moss Bros have improved since the beginning of the year, following the introduction of more fashion-forward options, according to chief executive Brian Brick.

It comes after the menswear group revealed suit hire like-for-like sales fell 3.6% in the year to January 31. Although offset to some extent by a climb in retail sales, the decline dragged Moss Bros’s gross margin down by 70 basis points.

Brick told Drapers performance in the hire arm has improved since January, although he declined to provide figures.

“What we’ve seen is people have an appetite for modern products,” he explained. “Towards the end of last year we introduced new Ted Baker suits which have been received very well, so it’s clear we need a new take on hire.”

He pointed out that like-for-likes in the hire business fell by 6.4% in 2013, so the rate of decline has slowed.

Brick also spoke of plans to further implement an “omnichannel shopping environment” boosted by the group’s growing ecommerce sales, which climbed 58.9% during the year and now make up 7.8% of the total.

The push will include extending the click-and-collect option currently available in its high street stores to all 130 locations, including shopping centres.

The business is also eyeing up as many as 15 new stores to open in the coming years, with three in unknown locations planned for 2015. It will refit 27 shops this year.

“As for our outlook for this year, who knows? There’s an election which makes it fairly unpredictable. Our plan is to keep our heads down and do what we do best.”

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