Moss Bros chief executive Brian Brick says the suit retailer and hire business has made a good start towards implementing “an omnichannel shopping proposition”. We take a look at what its full-year results say about that, its wider digital strategy, and Brexit.
Steady online growth
Moss Bros’ online sales growth moderated in the year to January 28, when ecommerce sales were up by 15.7%. That contrasts with the 36.3% rise reported the previous year. Ecommerce now accounts for 11% of Moss Bros’ sales. Group like-for-like sales of £131.5m were 5.3% up on last time, while like-for-like retail sales rose by 6%. Pre-tax profits of £7.1m were 20.3% up on last time. The retailer says online benefited from improvements to process and back end infrastructure investments. In 2017, says Brick, the retailer “will ensure that the appropriate investments are made in both our systems and our people during 2017 and beyond, to leverage the benefits of this important area.”
Its Hire website “continues to gain traction” and is set to grow more strongly. It says wedding hire customers are now more likely to begin their journey online before completing their transaction in store.
The growth of ecommerce, says the company, will underpin the move to full omnichannel retailing.
The cross-channel store opportunity
The business is gradually expanding its store estate and its online presence. By January 2017 Moss Bros had 127 stores, up from 124 a year earlier. It has four store openings scheduled for 2017 and more sees opportunities to open more stores “on a selective and cost effective basis” thanks to the demand for crosschannel services such as click and collect and click and return.
Rise of mobile
Sales via mobile devices grew strongly to account for 43% of online sales during the year. The growth, says Moss Bros, follows the introduction of its fully responsive website in the second half of 2016.
The retailer says that it has seen a significant reduction in contact from customers around their online shopping experience, thanks to investment of both money and expertise.
It is introducing new customer relationship management systems in order to improve customer communications and raise brand awareness. It is also investing in people in order “to establish a service culture across the business,” it said in the full-year statement, adding: “Our people are critically important to the future of the business.” Its Tailor Me personalisation service, a simplified bespoke offering, means customers can order a custom made suit for collection within 30 days of placing an order.
Moss Bros says excess stock is now cleared more effectively through stores and online, enabling new season stock to go into stores sooner. It has now increased warehouse capacity to house more stock and to process more ecommerce orders.