By and  on December 8, 2010

The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. is the latest retailer to jump more aggressively into the big and tall business.

The Houston-based firm revealed Tuesday that it will test freestanding big and tall stores, beginning with three units, under the Men’s Wearhouse name early next year. Doug Ewert, president, said the company currently has a $300 million business in extended sizes, and year-to-date growth is 40 percent higher in these categories than in the regular-size business.

“We are not new to big and tall and have built this business over the last three decades,” he said. “We believe we have a strong brand among big and tall customers.” The company didn’t provide any further details about the locations or mix for the stores.

The biggest player in the big and tall men’s segment is Casual Male Retail Group Inc., which operates close to 500 stores. This summer, the company unveiled a new superstore format, Destination XL, that melds the mix from all its divisions. There are currently four in operation and, by fiscal 2015, the company expects to have 75 to 100 of these stores in operation.

Last month, J.C. Penney Co Inc. said it would launch The Foundry Big & Tall Supply Co., a new retail chain and e-commerce site catering to the big and tall customer. The plan is to open 300 stores over the next five years.

The news of the plans for big and tall came as Men’s Wearhouse reported third-quarter profits, which matched analysts’ expectations with a 31 percent increase but projected a wider fourth-quarter loss than Wall Street had anticipated.

For the three months ended Oct. 30, net income attributable to the company rose to $25.3 million, or 47 cents a diluted share, identical to the Wall Street consensus estimate, versus year-ago net income of $19.3 million, or 36 cents.

Net sales grew 19.1 percent to $550.1 million from $462 million. Comparable-store sales were up 9.6 percent at the flagship division, where net sales rose 9.9 percent to $349.1 million, and down 0.2 percent at K&G, where net sales fell 1.6 percent to $789 million. Moores Canada registered a 5.6 percent comp increase in Canadian dollars as sales were up 9.9 percent to $61.5 million.

By category, clothing product sales rose 21.5 percent to $405.8 million, while tuxedo rentals were up 13.9 percent to $111.3 million. Alteration and other services grew 8.5 percent to $33 million.

Despite expected increases in comps, the company projected a generally accepted accounting principles loss of between 22 cents and 25 cents a share in the fourth quarter. Stripping out special items, that translates to a loss of 11 cents a share. Analysts on average had expected a 5-cent non-GAAP loss.

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