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Smart youngsters lift sales at Moss

MENSWEAR retailer Moss Bros has reported better-than-expected Christmas trading after seeing younger customers smarten up for the party season.

A trend towards black-tie outfits has benefited the chain, which saw like-for- like sales grow 2.7% in the 24 weeks to January 12.

Its shares have doubled in the past year and were up by another 2% yesterday after the firm said profits for the year to the end of January were now expected to exceed City forecasts.

Moss has also benefited from careful management of discounts over Christmas and tight control of costs.

Chief executive Brian Brick highlighted particularly strong demand from younger customers, who are buying more dress wear in order to keep up with changing fashions in music culture. "We are definitely benefiting from bands dressing smarter," he said.

Cheaper raw materials have also alleviated pressure on the group, which is part way through a strategic plan to turnaround and grow the business.

However, Mr Brick warned Moss Bros still operates under a fragile trading environment as consumers continue to feel the pinch.

The retailer expects to refit 25 stores this year under a plan to spruce up 90 of its stores. Plans to focus on its core business saw the firm sell its Cecil Gee and Hugo Boss stores in 2011.

Seymour Pierce Research analyst Freddie George raised full-year pre-tax profit forecasts to £2 million, from £1.8m ahead of full-year results on March 22.

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