Tamar Knitting Mills will hold a half-price sale to help pay entitlements to 15 staff who were stood down in November. The sale starts next week at the troubled Launceston textile company.

Owner Ian Thompson yesterday said a lot more money needed to be raised than the $35,000 the Textiles Clothing and Footwear Union had previously claimed the workers were owed. "You could multiply that by at least three," he said. Mr Thompson added that paying his former employees was his first priority.

Yesterday an administrator from accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tomahatsu was appointed to his company. "It is a disappointing development and it is not a decision I have taken lightly," he said. "But we need the administrator's management experience to prevent liquidation and we are very concerned about getting the entitlements paid. It has not been easy on the staff. They are not rich people. It has been hard on them over Christmas, and it has been hard for me too."

Mr Thompson said the company would probably close when it ran out of stock unless a new owner was found. He said negotiations were continuing with two prospective buyers, with the mills on the market as a going concern.

Union spokesman Doug Shirkey was unavailable for comment.