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Moss Bros posts first annual loss since 2011, scraps final dividend

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(Reuters) – Moss Bros Group on Tuesday reported its first annual adjusted loss before tax since 2011 and abandoned its final dividend payout as the British suit retailer grappled with weak demand and the costs of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.

The company has struggled through the year due to early season stock shortages in spring 2018 as well as lower footfalls and was forced to deeply discount its products in the second half of the year to attract customers.

Britain’s retail sector, which has been under mounting strain for years, saw a string of store groups go out of business or announce shop closures in 2018.

Last week, fashion retailer Ted Baker posted its first drop in annual profit since 2008, highlighting tough conditions on Britain’s high streets, while online retailer ASOS reported a dip in its second-quarter sales as growth slowed.

“In common with many UK retailers, we continue to anticipate an extremely challenging retail landscape, particularly within our physical stores, as a result of reduced footfall and rising costs,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Brick said in a statement.

Moss Bros on Tuesday also scrapped its final dividend payment and cut its total dividend for the year to 1.5 pence per share from 4 pence a year earlier.

However, the company said its total sales in the first eight weeks of the new financial year rose 3.6 percent and retail like-for-like sales, which includes e-commerce, gained 3.9 percent.

The company has been investing in its e-commerce business, as consumers continue to shop online for cheaper goods.

Moss Bros, which dates back to 1851, reported an adjusted loss before tax of 0.4 million pounds compared to a profit before tax of 6.7 million pounds last year.

Like-for-like sales fell 4.3 percent to 140.2 million pounds.

(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Arun Koyyur)

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