Moss Bros face store closures and job losses as Covid hits demand for suits

Moss Bros face store closures and job losses as Covid hits demand for suits

10/11/2020

MOSS BROS is braced for “tough” store closures and job losses as socially distanced weddings and work-from-home Brits hit demand for suits.

The struggling firm is “very close” to securing a CVA (company voluntary agreement) that would see some of its 125 stores shut for good, sources say.

Insiders at the suit and tuxedo retailer said the next six months would be “tough” for workers as the government’s furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.

The company, which is debt-free, has some 1,000 employees across its fleet of shops.

It is anticipated a CVA agreement, brokered by auditors KPMG, will be agreed in the coming weeks.

The cancellation of huge events such as Royal Ascot, where Brits get suited and booted for a week of glamorous horse racing, has hit company coffers.

Socially-distanced weddings with a limited number of guests, plus most office staff now working from home, has piled on the misery.

A source said: “There’s no demand for suits when most Brits have been told to stay at home for most of the year and work in their pyjamas.

“But on paper Moss Bros is in really good shape. The company is debt free and suppliers and landlords have been unbelievably supportive.

“However the truth is there are some really hard decisions coming up for company bosses when it comes to job losses, especially for people who have been at the firm for a long time.”

Like most high street retailers, Moss Bros chiefs are embroiled in tense negotiations with landlords as they bid to restructure rent payments.

It comes as a wave of property owners are increasingly using county court claims to chase unpaid rents unpaid during the covid-19 pandemic.

Retail tycoon Mike Ashley is currently fighting a county court claim over an unpaid rent bill at Evans Cycles in Ipswich.

However Moss Bros CEO Brian Brick told The Sun on Sunday: “Landlords have come in for a bit of a bashing but there are a lot out there who have been fantastic for us during this period.

“They have been incredibly supportive and are great friends of the company.

“They have been sensational. They get it – and understand we’ve always been good tenants who have paid rent on time and we are delighted with our dialogue with them.

“There are some who need to get real, who think that when this is all over commercial rents will shoot back up and there’ll be a long list for people wanting units.

“But I’d say we need all landlords to continue to help us and work with us as we get through this situation together.”

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