Fashion retailer A-wear has been bought by a group of international investors, in a deal which secures 460 jobs at its 32 stores in the Republic of Ireland.

A receiver, Jim Luby of McStay Luby, had been appointed to the chain last night by previous owner Hilco.

Today, agreement was reached with the group of investors, which is headed by British businessman Michael Flacks of Flacks Group. Flacks Group specialises in buying struggling retail and property assets.

A statement from the new investors said A|wear would continue to trade as normal and workers' terms and conditions would remain unchanged.

Mr Flacks said he was impressed by the strength of the A-Wear brand and its potential for future growth. He said his team wanted to develop and grow the business, not to shrink it.

A-wear was originally owned by Brown Thomas, which sold the stores to management in 2007 in a deal backed by UK private equity group Alchemy Partners. Alchemy sold the business to Hilco in October last year.

Some retailers looking at exit - Hilco

The company which put the A-wear chain into receivership has warned that recent statements from NAMA and the Department of Finance about the property market do not go far enough to prevent the departure of many international retail groups from the Irish market.

The CEO of Hilco Group, Paul McGowan, described rental levels across the country as "simply extortionate" for the retail sector at the moment.

He said he was aware that a number of international retailers were reviewing their presence in the Irish market as a result, adding that many landlords were unable or unwilling to cut rents.

But Mr McGowan praised NAMA and Revenue for their "flexible" approach and their desire to preserve jobs.

Hilco said it had implemented a series of restructuring measures since taking over A-wear, but the chain had become "substantially loss-making" with total losses of more than €18m in its latest accounts. It said the new owners could now go forward without the burden of unsustainable debts and excessive costs.