Niall O'Farrell, owner of formal wear hire chain Blacktie, has told staff at the group's 11 outlets that a liquidator will be appointed to the company on Friday next week.

The shops are set to continue trading as normal until then, and the company hopes a buyer will be secured once a liquidator has been named.

In a statement today, Mr O'Farrell said that the decision was taken in consultation with the company's bankers because of a combination of market and economic factors.

The statement said this includes a decline in the formal wear rental market, increased lower cost retailers from the high street, higher utility and branch operating costs and unaffordable high levels of rates.

Niall O'Farrell said he deeply regretted having to make the decision. He said: "I spent most of my career establishing and developing Blacktie, and have done all I could to bolster its prospects."

He said he had not drawn a salary from the business for four years, and invested "substantial" personal resources.

He paid tribute to Blacktie's staff for their hard work, dedication and loyalty, and said he would be available to them to answer any queries they have.