Moss Bros has reported a jump in interim profits as like-for-like sales grew despite what boss Brian Brick described as “an unpredictable economic backdrop”.

The menswear specialist posted a 15.7% rise in pre-tax profit year-on-year to £4.2m in the six months to July 29, bolstered by a 2.8% rise in group like-for-like sales.

Total group revenue was up 4.3% to £66.6m and the retailer’s ecommerce sales rose 14.5%, representing 11.2% of total sales.

Moss Bros opened four new stores during the period, taking its overall bricks-and-mortar estate to 129 shops. The specialist retailer’s like-for-like hire sales slumped 8.4%, although the division did represent 12.8% of its overall sales on the cash taken basis.

Despite introducing the mid-season sale ahead of schedule during the period in response to “a much tougher trading environment”, retail gross margin was up 0.1% year-on-year.

The retailer said that like-for-like retail sales in the eight weeks to September 23 were also up 3.5%.

Cost headwinds

Chief executive Brick said: “We are pleased with the performance of Moss Bros during the first half in what was a very tough trading environment.

“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.”

Alongside its interim results Moss Bros unveiled the appointment of Paddy Power’s chief financial officer Alex Gersh as a non-executive director.

Gersh will join the menswear specialist on November 1 and will take over as chairman of the audit committee next May upon the retirement of current chairman of audit Bryan Portman.

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “I am pleased to welcome Alex to the Company. As well as his strong listed finance experience, he brings broad strategic, commercial and digital skills, along with International consumer insight.

“I am sure that he will add considerable value to our Board and we look forward to working with him.”