Formal menswear retailer Moss Bros has said that sales improved in the 18 weeks to December 5, with like-for-like sales up 5.5% for the period.

Moss Bros, which has 150 stores, reported that like-for-likes fell by 2.6% in the six months to August 1.

Like-for-likes in the 44 weeks to December 5 rose 0.5%, on total sales up 2.2%.

The retailer said that year-to-date gross margin was ahead of last year despite operating in a highly promotional market. It added that the business had a strong average cash balance and had benefitted from operational changes over the year.

Moss Bros chief executive Brian Brick, who joined the company in March, said: “During this year the business has made operational changes which have resulted in a markedly improved trading position; performance in our core competence of suits has been impressive with the extensive range of brands, sizes and styles appealing to both the younger, fashion conscious male as well as the stylish, classic gentleman.  We are ever mindful of the uncertainty in trading conditions that lie ahead but the business is well placed to thrive in any economic climate.”

Moss Bros opened three stores in recent weeks in time for the crucial Christmas trading period.