- Moss Bros said it has continued to make good progress and was trading in line with market expectations.

CEO Brian Brick was encouraged by the trading momentum throughout the business as it entered the important Christmas trading period.

"Hire evening wear has shown growth on the prior year and although there has been some weakness in retail demand due to the warmer weather conditions, we have offset this with selective promotional activity and close control over costs," Brick said.

"We continue to develop the business by leveraging the strength of our brands and our operational capabilities. The Board remains confident in the outlook for the full year," he said in a trading statement.

Highlights included:

· Like for like sales for the first 19 weeks of the second half were up 7.8% on last year.

· Like for like sales for the 45 weeks to 6December were 7.0% ahead of last year.

· Total sales for the 45 weeks to 6 December were 5.6% ahead of last year.

· Retail sales, comprising 85% of Group revenue, have benefited from the new sub brands successfully launched for the Autumn season; Moss London, Moss 1851 and Moss Esquire, and from the increasing number of refitted stores now trading.

· Hire eveningwear sales are showing good growth on prior year.

· Gross margins for the half year to date are 180 basis points below last year, due to hire sales accounting for a smaller proportion of total sales and a higher level of retail price promotions to drive sales in the unseasonably warm weather this Autumn/Winter. The gross margin performance for the full year will, as always, depend on the level of discounting in the critical sale period in the final six weeks of the financial year.

· The expansion of the Group's e-commerce offer continues with sales up 81% on last year in the 45 weeks to 6 December 2014. Our mobile and tablet sites continue to grow strongly and now comprise 10% of e-commerce sales. E-commerce sales now comprise 7.4% of group revenue.

· Two new stores have been opened and four closed. Total estate is now 131 outlets.

· Fourteen stores have been refitted during 2014/15 to date, as part of the group's five year refit programme launched in 2012. Fifty six stores currently trade in the new shop format. Refitted stores continue to achieve the turnover increases expected.

· The business continues to make good progress and the Board remains confident in the outlook for the full year.

· The group has again maintained a healthy cash balance throughout the period and expects to end the 2014/15 year with net cash of £20.0m (£28.3m as at 26 January 2014).

Story provided by