Menswear retailer Moss Bros swung into the red in what chief executive Brian Brick said was the “most volatile” first half trading for many years.

Moss Bros made a £1.7m pre-tax loss, after adjusting items, in the six months to July 28 compared with a £3.9m profit last year.

Like-for-likes, including ecommerce, fell 6.9% – although online like-for-likes grew 9.5% over the period.

The retailer said it was hit by stock shortage, the hot weather and the “distraction” of England’s success at the World Cup, which impacted footfall.

Moss Bros said footfall in its second quarter fell by 7% on average with the worst-impacted stores down 14%. The retailer said that wiped out around £2.7m of retail store sales, which would have delivered £1.4m of gross profit.

Brick said: “The first-half trading performance was one of the most volatile for many years. We initially saw sales performance recover well following our previously highlighted early season stock shortages, and sales were generally ahead of expectation.

“This came to an abrupt end when high street footfall dropped dramatically, impacted by the protracted and unplanned period of extremely hot weather and the widespread distraction of England’s success in the World Cup.

“Although all retailers were impacted in some way, menswear was specifically impacted negatively by the combination and longevity of these two external factors.

“The position was exacerbated by the distressed discounting of some competitors, although we have taken the decision to stand firm on pricing where we feel Moss Bros’ product has a strong USP.”

Retail gross margin dipped 2.8% to 56.5% over the period, although 1.8% of this was down to weak sterling.

Retail like-for-likes in the first seven weeks of its third quarter showed an improved trend – although it was still in negative territory – down 3.7% year on year. Online sales were up 23.2% over the period.

Moss Bros said it now expected to deliver an operating profit, before adjusting items, of £2.3m, which is “materially lower” than current expectations.