Men’s formalwear specialist Moss Bros has reported a rise in full-year profits and sales and a strong start to the new financial year.

Moss Bros generated profit before tax of £4.4m in the year to January 25 compared with £3.1m the previous year.

Group like-for-likes, including VAT, advanced by 4.2% in the period to £122.2m.

In the first eight weeks of the current year, sales rose 7.3% and like-for-like gross profit advanced 6.4% on the comparable period.

Moss Bros chief executive Brian Brick said: “A focus on brand development, product, operational delivery and cost control has enabled us to grow profits ahead of market expectations.”

Moss Bros’ retail business achieved like-for-like-growth of 6.4%, helped by stock management initiatives to streamline the product range and a strong Christmas.

Ecommerce sales rocketed 209% year on year and online sales now account for 5.1% of the total at Moss Bros.

However like-for-likes at Moss Bros’ hire division fell 6.4% as a result of a difficult market in wedding outfits. Moss Bros observed: “This may have been due, in part, to the widely reported ‘2013 effect’ of customers avoiding an unlucky year, although there is no conclusive evidence of this.”

Brick said: “We continue to make good progress in the delivery of our strategic priorities.

“The modernisation of the store portfolio is achieving the anticipated returns and our plans for the implementation of a multichannel shopping environment are on track.

“Hire, having had a difficult 2013 for wedding-related hire, is showing some signs of recovery and we are well placed to maximise revenues in the 2014 wedding season.”