Chief executive, Moss Bros
Brian Brick threw down the gauntlet to Savile Row this year when Moss Bros set its sights on taking a slice of the made-to-measure tailoring market with the launch of Moss Bespoke. The concept, which offers made-to-measure suits for up to £500 and shirts for £75, launched in Blomfield Street in the City of London in June and is expected to be rolled out.
But while group sales rose 7.9% to £65.6m, pre-tax losses widened to £3.3m over the six months to July 31 due to changes in the senior management team and two major store refits during which the stores closed. This led to job losses - expected to be in low double figures - across head office and the distribution centre at the menswear business. Brick reassured the City by saying current trading had been “encouraging”, with like-for-like sales in the first half increasing 11.6%, but gross margin dropped 0.5% to 55.5% in the first six months.
Brick has worked to bring back quirkier brands like Ted Baker into the Moss chain, and to get new season product into its fashion-led fascia Cecil Gee and Hugo Boss franchise stores faster to satisfy a growing appetite for “newness and freshness”.
The menswear suiting market continues to be difficult, with rival chain Suits You closing down, leading some to ask whether there is any place on the high street for menswear standalones. Still, the Suits You fallout does mean there is market share up for grabs.