Until recently, Moss Bros had been troubled with regular financial losses and the sense it had lost its way.
Address 88 Regent Street, London W1B
Number of floors Two
Retail Space 4,500 sq ft
Design Creative director Sotos Georgalli and team
Then things began to improve. New shopfits appeared, ranges were tightened and at the beginning of this year a return to profit was announced - the turnaround was happening.
The latest evidence that things are changing can be seen at the Regent Street flagship that has just emerged from a month-long makeover. Moss Bros has two major stores in central London - this one and the Covent Garden outpost.
Anybody walking along Regent Street will now encounter a store called Moss Bros, rather than Moss (the name given to the bulk of Moss Bros branches), and this is proof of a desire to leverage the brand’s heritage. Moss Bros was a retailer with appeal at the better end of the mass market and the Regent Street store is about reclaiming this.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
A desire to present shoppers with all the options underpins what has been done by the visual merchants. Whether it’s the bouffant-looking ties that give a burst of colour to the basement wall, or the mannequins dressed in penguin suits and raising their toppers, this is about putting pace and fun into the interior. The Moss Bros heritage is to the fore with framed pictures on the walls providing glimpses of social events of yesteryear. And on the ground floor, accessories are displayed in groupings that make you consider each of the elements needed to present a well co-ordinated formal face to the world.
It’s about being appropriate for the occasion. Thought seems to have been given to every aspect.
02 - CONCEPT
With its emphasis on heritage and masculinity, it’s no surprise that the palette of materials used is sober. The cue for what has been done has been taken from textiles, with herringbone predominant and an attention to detail. In the basement, wall panels have been created from individually stained pieces of wood, arranged herringbone-style, with each plank being slightly different. The same might be said of the highlight tonal colours used on both floors.
03 - SERVICE
Given the emphasis on bespoke suitings - branded and private label - efficient and knowledgeable service should be taken for granted. Well turned-out types are on hand to help and advise but are also sensitive enough to let you get on with the matter of browsing and working out whether a yellow waistcoast might not be rather fetching. Selling suits is a tricky business as shoppers will be parting with upwards of £500 and mistakes can be costly.
At this Moss Bros, you feel you are in safe hands.
04 - PRODUCT
The base level at Moss Bros is, well, Moss Bros, as this is the label found in much of the private label stock. Savoy Taylors Guild is also an indicator of in-house products and after that it’s global brands that will be universally recognised, with Ted Baker providing the entry price and Canali the top end, while Hugo Boss and others are somewhere between the two. There is little to object to in any of this, but even for a formalwear retailer, Moss Bros does veer a little towards the more conservative end of things.
05 - COMPETITION
When it comes to hiring a dinner jacket or morning suit, Moss Bros probably remains the default option. That said, when it comes to buying a suit or a formal shirt, let alone a polo shirt, Moss Bros faces some really committed competition. On Regent Street, for a little more, you might want to take a look at Austin Reed (which also has a dress hire department), while John Lewis and Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street will provide alternatives, if you want to spend a mite less. Menswear remains a tough arena in which to operate and Moss Bros faces considerable competition.
06 - VERDICT - A RETURN TO FORM
By the standards of Moss Bros, this is a very good shop. By the standards of other players on the high street, it takes all comers head on. If Moss Bros can take some of the elements that have been put in the Regent Street store and retro-fit them across the existing estate, then it will have a formula that should see losses become a thing of the past. The new store is the outcome of a period of hands-on control, taking an ailing format and making something of it. This is a retailer that has a long way to go, but the new storefit is a positive development.