- Moss Bros Group said, in a trading update for the 23 weeks to Jan. 9, that it has continued to make good progress and is trading in line with market expectations. Like-for-like sales in that period were up 4.2% on the year.


· Total sales for the 23 weeks to 9 January were 4.8% ahead of last year.

· Retail sales, comprising 86% of Group revenue, continued to benefit from the increasing number of refitted stores now trading, and the more authoritative brand and price proposition. Total retail sales were up 3.5% on a like for like basis in the period under review.

· Hire sales increased by 9.5% on a like for like basis. They continued to show good growth on the prior year, with a successful eveningwear season maintaining the momentum achieved in the first half of the year.

· Overall gross margins for the half year to date improved by 2.8 percentage points above last year, a further improvement on the 1.0 percentage point increase achieved in the first half. The improvement is largely due to an improvement in retail gross margins which have benefited from the continued focus on more coordinated and better targeted promotions, particularly during the Black Friday period, and despite unseasonably warm Autumn weather.

· E-commerce sales were up 32.7% on last year in the 49 weeks to 9 January. Our mobile and tablet sites continue to grow strongly. We continue to see good growth and e-commerce sales now comprise 10% of group revenue.

· Four new stores have been opened and eight closed in the year to date. The total estate is now 126 outlets.

· 21 stores were refitted during 2015/16. 81 stores currently trade in the new shop format, with plans to refit a further 20 stores in 2016/17. Refitted stores continue to achieve the turnover increases expected.

· Stock levels remain under close control with residual stocks having been cleared.

· The group has again maintained a healthy cash balance throughout the period and expects to end the 2015/16 year with net cash of £17.0m (£19.6m as at 31 January 2015).

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