- Menswear retailer Moss Bros Group said it has continued to trade well and is on course to deliver the anticipated levels of growth, in line with market expectations.

Like for like sales for the first 19 weeks of the second half were up 3.7% on last year. Hire sales have performed particularly well and, as planned, the income deferred in the first half due to the summer's sporting events has been fully recovered.

Like for like sales for the 45 weeks to 8th December were 4.9% ahead of last year.

Total sales for the 45 weeks to 8th December were 4.6% ahead of last year.

As predicted, gross margins have seen some recovery so far in the second half, due principally to less cost pressures on raw materials and more direct sourcing. The gross margin performance for the year will as always depend on the level of discounting in the critical sale period in the final 6 weeks of the financial year.

The expansion of the Group's e-commerce capability continues with the planned new Retail website to be launched in January 2013, so as not to clash with the key selling period over Christmas and the New Year. The site will provide greatly improved functionality, with the extension of click and collect capability to all UK stores. The new Hire website is on track to launch during the first half of 2013.

14 stores have been refitted during 2012/13, as part of the group's 5 year plan to refit 90 stores. Post refit, trading performance for these stores has improved as expected. Plans are in place to refit a further 25 stores in 2013/14.

The group has maintained a healthy cash balance during the period and expects to end the 2012/13 year with net cash of £24m (£23.3m at end of 2011/12).

Moss Bros said the business continues to make good progress and the Board remains confident in the outlook for the full year notwithstanding the uncertain macro-economic environment and its impact on consumer spending.

Brian Brick, CEO, said: 'We are encouraged by the trading momentum throughout the business which has continued into this year. We are particularly pleased with the progress and resilience of our Hire business, which has successfully overcome the challenges posed by the summer's sporting activities.

'We enter the important Christmas trading period in good shape. We continue to develop the business by leveraging the strength of our brands and our operational capabilities, whilst managing it to reflect the difficult trading environment. The Board remains confident in the outlook for the full year.' The Group will announce its Preliminary Results on 22nd March 2013.

Story provided by