Midlands’ tailors Norton & Townsend today said British men have lost more than an inch off their waist since the credit crunch – and blame the death of the business lunch for the slim down.

The downturn in the economy has claimed many victims, but now it’s the turn of the expense account.

While many will lament the demise of the two-hour work lunch, Norton & Townsend said a more frugal approach to meetings was responsible for a reduction in waistlines.

Tim Nash, who covers the Midlands region for the travelling tailors, said the measuring tapes aren’t stretching as far as they used to when Britain was enjoying the boom.

So while men were taking greater care of their appearance and becoming increasingly concerned about their weight, Mr Nash said the change in attitude to business lunches as a result of the recession was a big factor in the great weight drop.

"The majority of our clients are at executive level who would have seen a business lunch almost as part of their daily working life," he explained.

"But that is no longer the case with expense accounts and lazy lunches out of keeping with the downturn in the economic climate. It's not just that the business lunch is seen as an expense a business can no longer afford to indulge but it is also that businesses are exploring other ways of networking as a means of promoting trade and closing deals.

"With the emergence of so many different online networking platforms and not just social ones businesses can often do without the business lunch with its demands on time and finances.

"It is most noticeable as average sizes drop."

Norton & Townsend said the average waist size had dropped from 36 to 34 ½ and chest sizes from 44 to 42.

And with more men now boasting a more svelte figure they are also opting for finer, lightweight, higher performance fabrics.

"The trend for slimmer fits is filtering through in the fabrics men are choosing for their suits,” said Mr Nash.

“Businesses are not just streamlining their manufacturing processes but also taking on a much more direct approach to how they dress. They no longer want to be bogged down with heavyweight materials. It is much-more on-trend these days to opt for finer fabrics.

“Our clients want to be able to move fast, to work at a quicker pace and the right suit designed for the individual is very much a part of that package.

"Dressing is about attitude, a state-of-mind and at Norton & Townsend we have noticed that men want to dress in a way that makes them feel productive, positive and looking as good as they feel."