Time is running out for a woollen mill in the Scottish highlands that has been producing tweeds for more than a century after government officials said they were prepared to put it to another use.

Hunters of Brora closed in February and is now unlikely to open again as a mill after liquidators said last month they had not received any bids for the plant and equipment.

Now the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has agreed the £7 million building can be sold or leased for purposes other than textiles, although the mill's former chairman, Geoffrey Minter, is trying to mount a last-ditch rescue bid.

"Following a number of expressions of interest, it has been agreed that the HIE network will offer the Sutherland Woollen Mill, Brora, for sale or long lease by a process of public tender," the HIE said in a statement.

"The assessment process will involve all bids being judged against a number of previously agreed criteria, based on the strategic priorities of the network, in order to ensure that the building contributes as fully as possible to the Sutherland economy.

"The sustainability of proposed uses and any potential indirect impacts will also be assessed during the process but HIE is not bound to accept the highest or indeed any offer.

"In the intervening period, the network is willing to discuss the potential for short-term leases of parts of the building to interested parties."