Pre-tax profits at Moss Bros have fallen after bearing the brunt of sector-wide torrid trading conditions in its last quarter.

The retailer was forced to discount heavily in line with other retailers on the high street at the end of last year, leading to a 90 basis points fall in margin during the year to January 31. However, in the first six weeks of the current year, the retailer said that total sales gross margin had increased 2.3 per cent.

Pre-tax losses before exceptionals fell to£5m in the year, down from a pre-tax profit of£200,000 the year before. The retailer said the performance was in line with expectations. Like-for-like sales fell 3.2 per cent.

Moss Bros reduced stock by 20 per cent to£15.4m. It recorded a 25 per cent reduction in stock older than 12 months.

Chief executive Brian Brick said that the retailer could “eek out” further reductions in stock, which could free up cash flow for the retailer during the year.

It has placed its store opening programme and refurbishment plans on hold in light of the climate.

Finance director Michael Hitchcock said that it was “absolutely prudent to decelerate the rate of new stores” in a “restrained climate”. He added that the retailer has a strong balance sheet that “has been in place for years”.

Moss Bros will reduce capital expenditure during the year to between£4m and£4.5m, down from£7.5m last year. The retailer has also reduced head office count by 15 per cent, through a combination of natural churn and 12 redundancies.

Brick added that the retailer would revamp its in-store experience to make a “big impact” on customers.

Like-for-like sales in the first six weeks since the year-end slumped 9.4 per cent, adversely affected by the snow in February. Since then, like-for-like sales dropped 5.7 per cent.

Total sales gross margin was ahead 2.3 per cent in the first six weeks, resulting in sales gross profit down 1.1 per cent.

At its mainstream Moss brand, like-for-like sales dropped 4.3 per cent. Its factory outlets incurred a 10.6 per cent slump in like-for-likes. The fashion brands, which include its Hugo Boss, Canali and Simon Carter franchises, fell 1.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Sales at its hire business climbed 0.8 per cent.

Like-for-like sales at Cecil Gee, which was put up for sale during the year, fell 6.4 per cent. The brand is now off the market.