- Moss Bros grew group like-for-like sales by 2.8% in the first half of the year.

Like-for-like retail sales, including e-commerce, were up 5.1% between 29 January 2017 and 29 July 2017. Total group revenue, excluding VAT, was up 4.3% on the previous year to £66.6m.

E-commerce retail sales for the first half grew 14.5% on the prior year and now represent 11.2% of total sales.

Like-for-like hire sales, which represent 12.8% of total sales in the half on a cash taken basis, were 8.4% lower.

The retail gross margin was up 0.1% for the half despite having re-introduced a mid-season sale in response to a much tougher trading environment during the earlier part of the season.

Overall gross margins were down 0.7%, impacted by the hire sales reduction where fixed depreciation costs relating to hire garments remain constant regardless of the level of sales.

Operating profit was up 16.6% to £4.2m and pre-tax profit was up 15.7% to £4.2m.

The interim dividend increased has been lifted by 6.3% to 2.03 pence per share.

Brian Brick, chief executive officer, said: "We are pleased with the performance of Moss Bros during the first half in what was a very tough trading environment. The early response to the 2017 Autumn/Winter ranges has been encouraging and we continue to see our retail like-for-like sales improve.

"We remain acutely aware that market conditions remain tough, with a highly competitive retail landscape set to continue alongside an unpredictable economic back-drop. There are significant cost headwinds, driven by National Living Wage, the Apprenticeship Levy and weaker sterling.

"We remain agile in our trading approach, whilst continuing to invest wisely in our future growth."

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