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Gatemore Capital’s arrival on the shareholder register suggests an activist campaign may be in the offing
Thursday 13 Jun 2019 Author: James Crux

Activist investor Gatemore Capital Management has acquired a 9.57% stake in struggling, lately unloved high street suit hire specialist Moss Bros (MOSB).

News of the stake may spur on expectations of an activist campaign from Gatemore, although according to a source close to the asset manager cited by Sky News, it has yet to engage with management.

Gatemore’s arrival on the share register could be the precursor to change at the men’s suit seller and wedding hire specialist and will certainly make management nervous.

The activist fund previously pressed for a break-up of faded fashion brand French Connection (FCCN) and has recently taken a 3.79% stake in Majestic Wine (WINE:AIM) too.

Moss Bros has been hit by the wider UK high street malaise. In March, the London-headquartered concern posted its first adjusted pre-tax loss since 2010/11, on declining retail and hire like-for-like sales during the year ended 26 January, and also shelved the final dividend.

Management bemoaned spring 2018 stock shortages, extreme weather and weak consumer demand, heavy discounting and the distraction from England’s summer of 2018 World Cup success for the deficit.

In a more recent AGM update (15 May), Moss Bros said its overall performance had continued to show an improvement on the prior year despite a tough market backdrop, although the hire business remains ‘challenging’.

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