Baugur’s rock-bottom bid for the business has reignited the simmering tensions that are never far from the surface at the tailor. But while the shareholders bicker, the big loser is the business itself.
If you want a cheap suit these days, you go to Marks & Spencer. If you want a more aspirational brand, you go to House of Fraser. Moss is caught in no-man’s land and, while chief executive Philip Mountford is well thought of, the constant state of flux makes it impossible to fix the business.
The Moss brand has a strong heritage, but not much else going for it. But what the company does have is valuable licensing deals with strong brands such as Hugo Boss. From this perspective, Baugur’s ownership of House of Fraser makes a compelling case for a tie-up.
It must be galling for the Moss and Gee families to see Baugur bid just 42p, having offered 80p a year ago. But it’s not as though these families are new to the business and, having sold down their stakes, they have to allow the company to be run as a quoted business.
Whatever way you look at it, the odds are stacked against Moss Bros. And while Baugur may represent the best hope for its future, the least that needs to come out of this battle is the cleaning up of a corporate structure that is slowly strangling the business.
In the bag
Most homes have a cupboard full of plastic carrier bags intended for reuse that never again see the light of day. When the cupboard gets full, they all end up in the bin.
With this level of waste, it’s hard to see why some are objecting to the move to charge for plastic bags. A nominal charge of 5p will at least make people think about reusing bags, and those who are sensitive about the charge will make sure they bring them back.
For retailers to reduce their carbon footprints, some big decisions will have to be made. This isn’t one of them though; it’s an easy way for retailers to take the initiative.